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Primavera 2017 artist Laura Hindmarsh shares six films ahead of her specially curated edition of Art + Film on Saturday 16 September. more

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Rose Nolan

It's not good to worry about space  2008

synthetic polymer paint on hessian

2 parts: 61.5 × 800cm, 61.5 × 600cm

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2008

2008.47A-B

About the Artwork

The words it’s not good to worry and about space are writ large in red capitals on the two sides of Rose Nolan’s huge banners. Together, they compose an ironic sentence whose playful and anti-heroic message is at odds with the serious political purpose of the banner. Nolan’s practice references various art-historical legacies, such as the abstraction of early modernism and the revolutionary aesthetics of Russian constructivism, which aimed to politicise art by taking it out of the gallery and onto the streets. Following conceptual art of the 1960s, Nolan infuses this critical representation of abstraction with personal content and contemporary experience, using messages gleaned from everyday sources.

Informed by the traditions of non-objective painting, my work develops art objects that utilise text as material object – ‘found’ text that is derived from the everyday – and methods of construction that have the potential to disrupt expectation and to engender complex readings. Construction is both process and metaphor: letters are combined into words, and words into banners, objects, pamphlets or images. Seemingly insignificant words or phrases are separated from the stream of continuous talk (or thought) and given a fresh existence, transforming the space they inhabit. My intention is to invite the viewer into a new space of play between reading and seeing, often merging vulnerability and bravado, self-doubt and affirmation.

Rose Nolan, 2014

Rose Nolan

– About the artist

Born 1959, Melbourne. Lives and works Melbourne.


One of a group of Australian artists who formed a loose association around the experimental and innovative Store 5 artist-run space in Melbourne between 1989 and 1993, Rose Nolan’s work traverses forms and ideals founded in utopian strands of twentieth-century avant-gardism.

Rose Nolan has exhibited widely nationally and internationally since the 1980s. Recent solo exhibitions include Immodest Gestures and Irrational Thoughts, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne (2015); Performance Architecture, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne (2013); The Solo Projects, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne (2011); Why Do We Do the Things We Do, Artspace, Sydney and Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2008); and Work in Progress #3, Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne (2008). Selected group exhibitions include 21st Century: The Collection Since 2000, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2015); Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2014); Contemporary Australia: Women, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2012); Forever Young, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2011); and 21st Century Modern: 2006 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2006). Nolan’s work is represented in major state gallery collections within Australia and private collections in Copenhagen, Cologne, Wellington and Amsterdam.

The monograph Rose Nolan: Why Do We Do the Things We Do was co-published by Artspace, Sydney and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane in 2008.

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