Norman Lindsay: life and works

By Gwylym Owen

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Norman Alfred William Lindsay (22 February 1879 – 21 November 1969) was an Australian artist, etcher, sculptor, writer, art critic, novelist, cartoonist and amateur boxer. One of the most prolific and popular Australian artists of his generation, Lindsay attracted both applause and controversy for his works, many of which infused the Australian landscape considering erotic pagan elements and were deemed by his critics to be “anti-Christian, anti-social and degenerate”. A vocal nationalist, he became a regular artist for The Bulletin at the zenith of its cultural influence, and unprejudiced staunchly anti-modernist views as a leading writer upon Australian art. When friend and college critic Bertram Stevens argued that kids like to retrieve about fairies rather than food, Lindsay wrote and illustrated The Magic Pudding (1918), now considered a classic pretense of Australian children’s literature.

Apart from his creative output, Lindsay was known for his larrikin attitudes and personal libertine philosophy, as with ease as his battles in imitation of what he termed “wowserism”. One such battle is portrayed in the 1994 film Sirens, starring Sam Neill and filmed upon location at Lindsay’s home in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. It is now known as the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum and is maintained by the National Trust of Australia.

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