Imagining Ned

Sidney Nolan, Kelly in bush, 1945Imagining Ned, a new exhibition curated by Bendigo Art Gallery, brings together arguably one of the most extensive collections of art inspired by the Ned Kelly story ever to be shown.

Even before his violent confrontation with police at Glenrowan in 1880 and his subsequent hanging, Ned Kelly was a figure of international legend.  More than a century later, he remains a highly mythologized character in Australian history, one that continues to capture the imaginations of Australian artists and writers.

Imagining Ned draws on some of Australia’s most significant public and private collections to bring together a wide range of artistic depictions of Kelly, including works by Albert Tucker, Arthur Boyd, Adam Cullen, Juan Davilla, Guan Wei and Norman Lindsay.

Undoubtedly the most iconic artistic engagement with the legend of Ned Kelly is the work of celebrated Australian artist Sidney Nolan, considered one of the most important series of Australian paintings of the 20th century and a way for Nolan to paint the Australian landscape he loved whilst also exploring themes of violence, injustice, love and betrayal.  The exhibition will feature a significant selection of Nolan’s works, including five from private collections and rarely seen in a gallery setting.

The Kelly story is an ongoing one, which continues to evolve and evoke,” says Karen Quinlan, Director, Bendigo Art Gallery. “Imagining Ned offers a comprehensive study of the many and varied artistic interpretations of the Kelly story presented through time, and allows us to bring together works by some of Australia’s most significant artists all of whom have a shared interest in the Kelly myth and legend.”

Imagining Ned will also explore the history and legend surrounding the Kelly gang through original artefacts such as Kelly’s famous armour, the Jerilderie letter and other significant historical items including weaponry and photographs, newspaper reports and books.

Also on display, will be the petition calling for Ned Kelly’s reprieve, organised by brothers David and William Gaunson and submitted to the Governor-in-Council on 8 November 1880. Kindly loaned by Victoria’s Public Record Office, the petition was signed by over 30,000 people and asked that the “life of the condemned man Edward Kelly may be spared”.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of education and public programs, including a rare screening of excerpts from the 1906 Ned Kelly feature by Charles Tait, recognised by UNESCO as the world’s first feature film will also be included in the display.

Imagining Ned
Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo
Exhibition: 28 March to 28 June, 2015
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Sidney Nolan, Kelly in bush, 1945. Enamel on cardboard. Collection: The Nolan Collection at Canberra Museum and Gallery is managed on behalf of the Australian Government