A few weeks ago, I dropped in to the Lindsay Gallery to sit and think, to look and to contemplate.
In front of me and all around were the fruits of the fantastic Lindsay family, Norman’s lush nudes, a cabinet full of Ruby’s art nouveau drawings and designs, and fine examples of the draughtmanship and print-making of Percy, Lionel and Daryl.
Impressive. And I began to wonder how little turn-of-the-century Creswick coped with all this, especially with what reportedly were the wild goings-on at the Lindsay household. I know Creswick are, rightly, proud of the Lindsay family now.
One of Norman Lindsay’s paintings is called “Benediction” (which means blessing) so that led into this light-hearted poem as my introduction to my tenure as Poet in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Benediction(Benediction n. The act of blessing or invoking a blessing . . .)What a blessing they were to NormanHow these belles in full flesh were his joyWith just a gesture at narrative functionA satyr or two and a boy.His models all glowing and healthyWith no trace of any fig leaf‘No nudes is good nudes’ was clearlyNot part of Lindsay’s belief.In the family too - art nouveau RubyRose with her dark Spanish poutsAnd Percy and Lionel and DarrylWith landscapes and townscapes and boats.What would they have wondered in CreswickOf the fey Lindsay clan and their waysHow the strangest of creatures came callingAnd the wild goings-on of their days.But men downing pots in the barroomsThough they would not have said it aloudFelt the envy behind the guffawingThey mocked but were secretly proud.And all the dear ladies of CreswickWith their doilies and fine Wedgwood cupsCould barely suppress a wee frissonOf excitement behind their tut-tuts.Oh, what would we give to be part ofThat artistic Bohemian crewEndowed with a richness of talentAnd a nice naked lady or two!