British art historian Sir Kenneth Clark presents a speech in honour of Sidney Nolan at his Retrospective exhibition opening at the Royal Dublin Society, Dublin, 1973. Clark announces Nolan as 'a great painter … he started life with a desire to be a poet, to be the Australian Rimbaud'.
The song 'Click Go the Shears' is overlaid with footage of Sidney Nolan and gallery workers unpacking and installing his show of 4230 pictures. Included is the install of Nolan’s ambitious large-scale mural Snake (1970–1972), a work that consists of 1620 individual artworks and measures at approximately 46 metres long.
The use of 'Click Go the Shears' adds a recognisable colonial Australian flavour to the story for an Irish audience. The song is a popular example of a traditional Australian bush ballad and tells the story of sheep shearing in the late 1800s. At the end of the clip a forklift has been edited using jump cuts in time with the 'click, click, click' of the lyrics. The pairing of song and subject matter is appropriate to the overall film given that Nolan's works tell stories from the Australian bush, most notably that of the iconic bushranger Ned Kelly.
Notes by Tara Marynowsky