Norman Alfred William Lindsay (22 February 1879 – 21 November 1969) was an Australian artist, etcher, sculptor, writer, editorial cartoonist, scale modeller, and an accomplished amateur boxer.
Lindsay is widely regarded as one of Australia’s greatest artists, producing a vast body of work in different media, including pen drawing, etching, watercolour, oil and sculptures in concrete and bronze.
A large body of his work is housed in his former home at Faulconbridge, New South Wales, now the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, and many works reside in private and corporate collections. His art continues to climb in value today. In 2002, a record price was attained for his oil painting Spring’s Innocence, which sold to the National Gallery of Victoria for A$333,900.
His frank and sumptuous nudes were highly controversial. In 1940, Soady took sixteen crates of paintings, drawings and etchings to the U.S. to protect them from the war. Unfortunately, they were discovered when the train they were on caught fire and were impounded and subsequently burned as pornography by American officials. Soady’s older brother Lionel remembers Lindsay’s reaction: “Don’t worry, I’ll do more.”
Lindsay’s creative output was vast, his energy enormous. Several eyewitness accounts tell of his working practices in the 1920s. He would wake early and produce a watercolour before breakfast, then by mid-morning, he would be in his etching studio where he would work until late afternoon. He would work on a concrete sculpture in the garden during the afternoon and in the evening write a new chapter for whatever novel he was working on at the time.
As a break, he would work on a model ship some days. He was highly inventive, melting down the lead casings of oil paint tubes to use for the figures on his model ships, made a large easel using a door, carved and decorated furniture, designed and built chairs, created garden planters, Roman columns and built his own additions to the Faulconbridge property.
My first encounter of Norman Lindsay and I would hazard a guess that this is the case for most Australian children was his book The Magic Pudding. It is said that Norman wrote this book to settle an argument. A friend of Lindsay’s said that children like to read about fairies, while Lindsay asserted that they would rather read about food and fighting.
The Magic Pudding: Being The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum and his friends Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoffis an Australian children’s book written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay. It is a comic fantasy and a classic of Australian children’s literature.
The story is set in Australia with humans mixing with animals. It tells of a magic pudding named Albert which, no matter how often it is eaten, always reforms in order to be eaten again. It is owned by three companions who must defend it against Pudding Thieves who want it for themselves.
The book is divided into four “slices” instead of chapters. There are many short songs interspersed throughout the text, varying from stories told in rhyme to descriptions of a character’s mood or behaviour, and verses of an ongoing sea song.
I have put together a very short quiz about this book. See how much you remember from your childhood. (Try not to use the interwebs to look up answers, it’s more fun that way).