Like a cubist painting or collage, Nolan’s landscapes create their own reality, with constantly shifting patterns in which images, predominantly mountain ranges, appear and disappear. Inland Australia seen from the air provided Nolan with an entirely new special challenge. Travelling at an altitude of 10,000 feet, Nolan thought of both Paul Klee and Indigenous Australian artists in relation to the abstracted landscape that appeared as random patterns upon the earth’s surface.
During his lifetime, Nolan established an enviable reputation both in Australia and abroad that was enhanced by a proliferation of exhibitions in major cities throughout the world. In 1946–7 he completed his legendary Ned Kelly series, and from 1949–1953 a series of works on the subject of inland Australia, incorporating imagery of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, religion and drought.