British Museum

Stop 4    

Sidney Nolan (1917–1992), 'All tastes like dust in the mouth/All strikes like iron in the mind'.Surviving drought Room 90

Stephen Coppel, British Museum, introduces the drawing

This 1954 drawing by Sidney Nolan depicts a cattle carcass, a victim of the drought, slowly disintegrating into the arid landscape. Australia’s climate is extraordinarily dry, with two-thirds of the continent having an annual rainfall of less than 500 millimetres (20 inches). Cattle farming represented a major new form of land use following British settlement – the clearing of the land decreased the productivity of the landscape for hunting and gathering purposes by Indigenous Australians, and in some cases produced desert conditions. For some Indigenous Australians, participating in the cattle industry was one way of remaining on their ancestral lands.