Someone asked me recently why people often speak of artist and author Norman Lindsay (1879 – 1969) as having lived at Springwood in the Blue Mountains, when the property is actually in the neighbouring village of Faulconbridge. One reason is that Norman himself always wrote his address as Springwood.
In verifying this fact I came upon a wonderful letter to a Mr Chapman, regarding one of the artist’s early drawings. It was titled The Weird Lady, and inspired by a poem of the same name by Charles Kingsley (1819-1875). Kingsley is better known as the author of The Water Babies. I have put a link to the poem at the end of this article.
It is such a thoughtful, generous letter. I was interested in Norman’s critique of this early work, and his comments on his ‘elaborate’ signature. By the way, he was 18 when he completed the drawing, not 14, as he stated. Of course, looking back from a distance of almost seven decades, who could blame him for a small error?
And in view of the Faulconbridge/Springwood debate, it is wonderful that he speaks about the future of his beloved home.
‘Queer that it should arrive at this moment, when I am busy framing a number of pen drawings, to be hung in this house at Springwood, along with etchings, watercolours, and oil paintings. I am turning the place over to the National Trust when I take my final departure from it, and have managed to turn the whole place into an art gallery of my works.‘ And so it remains to this day; an amazing legacy.
At one point he muses over where the drawing may have ‘wandered’ during the years between 1896 and 1967.
This begs another question…..where did it wander after 1967? It came up for sale about 8 years ago, through Strand Coins, located in Sydney’s Paddington. The drawing and Norman’s accompanying letter sold for $11, 500, presumably to a private collector.
Norman Lindsay died two years after he wrote the letter to Mr Chapman, aged ninety.
FOR DETAILS OF THE NATIONAL TRUST OWNED NORMAN LINDSAY GALLERY, CLICK HERE
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HEAR A RECORDING OF KINGSLEY’S WEIRD LADY, CLICK HERE