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Russell Drysdale

In their own words

Recorded 1960

Russell Drysdale
Audio: 2 minutes

This is very ancient land, and its forms and its general ecology is so intriguing as compared to the other countries of the world that it in itself is surprising. I know that lots of people say that they can’t see much in the burnt dried-up plains. But on the other hand, you’ve got this tremendous sense of space, of freedom, allied to it again a strange, age-old quality, and you get without doubt, a tremendously romantic element.

One’s only got to walk around about on the Nullarbor Plain and look at the shapes of organisms, the long dead age, sea forms that reveal themselves for you on the rocks patterned like tracery, things that lived 15 million years ago in the Miocene seas. And besides you, peculiar spectacle of a railway running across this former sea bed, ballasted with the fossil remains of these creatures. See, you’ve got all the elements of most extraordinary sort of dramas, I mean, they have an effect, they help one to look at a landscape, they help one to see these peculiar things.

I don’t think I can elaborate very much more, really, because it’s quite difficult to talk about one’s own paintings. One just does them, really.

Everybody knows the elemental factors that go to make works of art, but when one tries to talk about oneself and one’s point of view, the same old question comes up: you really don’t quite know. There’s first of all the impact, and there you are.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Russell Drysdale is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

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Russell Drysdale

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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