All in the family: Will Dyson etchings to go on display at the Norman Lindsay Gallery Giving the expression: ‘come up and see my etchings’ a new twist, the National Trust of Australia (NSW) has put together a delightful exhibition of dry point etchings created by Will Dyson, Australia’s first official war artist and a popular political cartoonist in the early 20th century.
Entitled The Brother-In-Law: Will Dyson – Etcher, Cartoonist and War Artist – the exhibition will be on display at the Norman Lindsay Gallery in Faulconbridge, NSW from today until 30 September. The 30 etchings, plus some 15 books displaying Dyson’s artworks and cartoons, are from a private collection and have not been seen by the public for decades.
Dyson (1880-1938) married Norman Lindsay’s sister, Ruby, in 1910 and became part of one of the most intriguing artistic families in Australia. A talented artist in his own right, he is considered by many to be the country’s finest war artist but was also known for witty and bitingly satirical cartoons. “He was great on his own, but loved being part of the Lindsay clan. He adored Ruby, was great mates with Norman and their brother Daryl was his batman during the war. It seemed only fitting the gallery should put on an exhibition of his works as he’s one of the family,” said Trust curator, Patricia R. McDonald.
With his father and older brothers being active members of their local socialist party in Ballarat, Victoria, Dyson was always destined to have a radical streak. At 20, his cartoons were regularly published in The Sydney Bulletin which led to his appointment as staff artist for The Adelaide Critic in 1904.
After his marriage to Ruby, Dyson headed to London and found cartoon work was in big demand thanks to the political and industrial strife of the time. He became the chief cartoonist for the left-wing newspaper, The Daily Herald, and earned a reputation as a champion for labourers and suffragettes. During the First World War, Dyson joined the war effort with the intention “to interpret in a series of drawings, for national preservation, the sentiments and special Australian characteristics of our army.” Despite being injured twice, he produced a plethora of gritty drawings of Australian soldiers along the Western Front.
After Ruby died, a victim of the influenza pandemic that swept the globe in 1918-19, Dyson was overwhelmed with grief and was unable to work for several months. The next year he published The Drawings of Ruby Lind, accompanied by a volume of poetry dedicated to his beloved wife. In 1925, he returned to Australia and continued his cartooning work for several newspapers. He turned to etching in the 1930s, displaying greater virtuosity in his draughtsmanship than shown in his earlier cartoons. He died suddenly in 1938, leaving behind an impressive body of work that exhibited tenderness for the downtrodden and a caustic bite against the enemy, be it German soldiers or profiteering employers.
The Brother in-Law primarily showcases Dyson’s satirical dry points from the early 1930s, spanning the topics of literature, moralities, Hollywood (he worked for a time there) and temptations. Many familiar personalities feature in these etchings, including the odd brother-in-law.
“They haven’t dated in their humour and bite,” said Ms. McDonald.
Many feature witty, caustic comments including some from the psychoanalyst’s series such as ‘Dr. Freud introduces a patient to her subconscious’ and Dr Freud: ‘Naughty! Who’s been thinking pure thoughts again?’ Also fun are ones from his Hollywood series such as The Higher Literati: ‘But understand Miss Hollywood, only with reluctance, with marked reluctance.’
Magic of the Sea
1 Sept 2007 - 26 Feb 2008
New exhibition explores Norman Lindsay’s love for the sea
“He was probably a pirate in another life.”
So says Norman Lindsay’s grand-daughter Helen Glad, about her famous artist grandfather and his love for painting pirates.
Best known for his voluptuous nudes, Lindsay also had a passion for painting pirates, sirens, Atlantis, and other sea-oriented imagery. This is reflected in Magic of the Sea, a new exhibition at the Norman Lindsay Gallery, Faulconbridge.
Magic of the Sea runs from 1 September 2007- 26 February 2008. The exhibition is drawn from the gallery’s permanent collection and private collectors.
“In 19th century Australia if a young boy wanted to escape the confines of a strict upbringing the one choice was to run away to sea and join the mariners who sailed in square-rigged ships carrying wool back to England. The lure of rounding the Cape in heavy weather would have seemed much better than sitting in a classroom. Lindsay was forever looking to escape the humdrum. The first book he read was Coral Island. He maintained his fascination with pirates, the high seas and adventure throughout his life,” said Ms. Glad.
Lindsay was inspired by the myths of classical Greece, particularly the sirens whose songs could send sailors to unhappy ends. He once noted: "the Sirens...allure the mariners into dangerous sea-ways. They represent the element of danger...half the charm of the unknown adventure of love”.
Magic of the Sea, held at Lindsay’s former residence, features over 30 watercolours, etchings and sketches incorporating such themes as mermaids/sirens, pirates, shipwrecks, the lost city of Atlantis and mythical creatures.
Included are such delightful works as Ulysses (a beautiful watercolour portraying the myth of Ulysses with the hero strapped to the mast of his sailing ship to escape the lure of the sirens’ song while winged sirens spiral around the masts); The Little Mermaid (a startled looking mermaid sitting on a rock in the ocean); Mermaids and Dolphins (three nudes riding dolphins); Drowned Atlantis (underwater scene of buildings in the background with figures swimming around the buildings) and several ‘pirate and wench’ paintings.
Also on display are several wooden ship models made by Lindsay as a diversion from his painting including an elaborate Elizabethan galleon. There is also a 1950s ceramic vase - Swirl of the Sea - featuring underwater scenes of sea nymphs and fish.
Norman Lindsay Gallery @ 14 Norman Lindsay, Faulconbridge
Free to National Trust members, $9 adults, $6 concession and $4 children, which includes entry to the Dyson exhibition.