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04 May 2022
By Michael Scalzo
A Wimmera gallery director has highlighted the authentic and true-to-self vision of Australian artist Norman Lindsay as eternally relevant.
Horsham Regional Art Gallery will host a collection of Lindsay’s photographic, illustrated and painted works collated from private and public sources across Australia, including from Horsham family homes.
Gallery director Jane Scott said initial discoveries of Lindsay’s work in Horsham became an inspiration to broaden her ‘Lindsay search’ more than six months ago.
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“When I first arrived in Horsham I met with a local family, the Davidsons, who were interested in donating work to the gallery collection that belonged to Jean Davidson, one of the gallery’s first directors,” she said.
“They thought gifting some of her personal artwork to the collection was a great way to honour her.
“When I was there, I chose a number of pieces – Jean had a great eye for art – and I saw a small pencil drawing by Lindsay. It inspired me to think about a broader Lindsay exhibition. And specifically, I thought, if there is one of his works in the region, there was bound to be others.”
Norman Lindsay was a maverick of Australia’s early 20th-century bohemian art scene and was a prolific painter, illustrator, sculptor and writer, having famously wrote and illustrated the iconic Australian children’s story ‘The Magic Pudding’.
Ms Scott said it was an ‘honour and a privilege’ to have collectors giving their personal works to the exhibition, including a selection of Lindsay’s original photographs.
The Horsham gallery exhibition will explore Lindsay’s use of technique as his work developed a ‘scandalous’ reputation during the 1930s for depicting paintings of nude women.
Ms Scott said she loved so many things about Lindsay, in particular, his early considered radical determination to paint female nudes at a time when people were ‘prudish’ about the concept.
“He was one of the first bohemians in Australia who set up a small community of artists, writers and poets to explore a new way of being and sense of being – Lindsay’s art was at the core of what he did,” she said.
“I love how this exhibition unearthed his photography from some of his discovered photographic plates from 1911, which were then able to be printed.”
Ms Scott said there were parallels between Lindsay’s drawings and prints, and his photography.
She said the relationship was most notable when comparing his drawing and prints with the clothes his subjects wore and how they posed.
“It was crazy to see how this could be considered controversial, especially with what is available in that space today. It now seems so tame and charming, even when we remember his historical context,” she said.
“His work has remained a cheeky and fantastical portrayal of women – depicted as almost Amazonian and God-like creatures.
“Interestingly, the men in his work were depicted as being a lot smaller than the women, which I guess reflected his own personal psyche at the time.”
Ms Scott said she also loved a diversity in Lindsay’s work.
“At the same time he was painting nude women, he was writing The Magic Pudding. I loved the diversity of his output,” she said.
“And while he was considered at times terribly unfashionable, he has always come back into artistic fashion in modern Australia.
“He is an amazing Australian artist and I am delighted to be able to curate this exhibition. Hopefully everyone has a chance to come and see it.”
Ms Scott said Lindsay’s style and approach remained an exemplar for Australians today.
“Be true to your own interests and make sure what you are doing is very personal to you,” she said.
“That authenticity will always shine through. Pursue what you believe in and that will show through in your practice.”
Horsham Regional Art Gallery’s Norman Lindsay exhibition includes work from homes in Horsham, private collections in Sydney and Melbourne and from The University of Melbourne.
The free exhibition closes on July 10.
The entire May 4, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!