Although we are a nation known for sun, sand and surf we can still deliver up some pretty impressive winter weather. And it has been a cold winter this year. Much colder than I have ever experienced it to be in Australia with good dustings of snow here and there. I guess it is mother natures gentle reminder that we are not just a country of baking hot days, deeply tanned summer skin and bone dry lands.
That said however, the days on the whole have been quite lovely and it was on one of these days with the sky ever so blue and the snow clouds having slung themselves low over the Blue Mountain ranges, that we headed for a little place tucked away amongst almost 43 acres of Australian bush at Faulconbridge – The Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum.
This lovely time capsule, preserved in near original condition, is an unflinching look at art, history and an avant-garde lifestyle long since passed. Although considered controversial and often a provocateur to the morals and standards of middle class society during his time, Lindsay was and is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest artists.
Prolific and extraordinarily talented this wonderfully contentious man worked with water colour, ink, pencil and oils. He was a sculptor of both bronze and concrete, a cartoonist, a social commentator and an inventor. He wrote several novels during his time including the wonderful Australian classic The Magic Pudding which he brilliantly illustrated. Lindsay was also an etcher, a visionary, a boxer and an accomplished builder of the most intricate model boats built exactly to scale.
Though living part of his life through a decadent period it was also the era of indigence, poverty stricken artists and the depression. There was no electricity, no telephone and no ease of life and nor were there most of the luxuries we experience today but it was during this time Lindsay managed to produce an enormous body of work.
This collective is run by the National Trust and it is a living treasure with gardens, paths, fountains, the original sandstone home, art work on display, the painting studio, etching studio, sculptures and abundant fauna and flora. The oil painting studio Lindsay used has been preserved as it was at the time of his death at the age of almost 91 with unfinished oil paintings and the materials he used on display.
This place will fill your eyes, your mind and your heart with delight and there are moments where you may find the sheer beauty of his work could actually dissolve you in to a pool of tears. It is also one of the few galleries where you are allowed the privilege (and great pleasure) of running your hands over these beautiful sculptures. These slightly weathered creations are still as lustrous as they were when first produced and to caress the curves, swells and rounded forms feels so damn good.
Lindsay’s home has been lovingly preserved and it serves as the gallery which displays much of his work. It is a privilege to view his glorious works of beautifully solid yet lithe bodies and as you study the art work you will start to see the familiar and elegant faces of his favorite muses.
Guided tours are available and I highly recommend taking one as the volunteer guides are knowledgeable and passionate. These tours also allow you access to his studio and the etching room. Other than that you can wander the grounds at your leisure, admire his beautiful art work of gorgeous nudes or take a moment or two to enjoy the café.
There are many and varied things which I love and admire. Quality baked goods, yodeling and the unattractive babies depicted in Renaissance paintings are just a small few. You see art is objective and very personal and there is no right or wrong to what you like or do not like.
Faulconbridge is a lovely place to visit. You will be enriched by this journey and you don’t even have to be a lover of art to enjoy it……..xx
* The Norman Lindsay Museum and Gallery is located at 14 Norman Lindsay Cres, Faulconbridge New South Wales