As you may be aware, my theme for the 2018 A-Z April Blogging Challenge is Writing Letters to Dead Artists. Today, I’ll be writing to Norman Alfred William Lindsay (22 February 1879 – 21 November 1969). He was a famous Australian artist, sculptor, writer, editorial cartoonist, scale modeler, and an accomplished amateur boxer. Today, we’ll be entertained by Australian Jazz band Galapagos Duck performing I Feel Good at Norman Lindsay’s home at Springwood in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
By the way, it is almost comical that Norman Lindsay follows on directly after Abstract Expressionist, Wassily Kandinsky. While Kandinsky lauded modern art as a founder of the Blaue Reiter and later at the Bauhaus, Norman Linsday, like Hans Heysen , seemed oblivious to various new ways of painting and steadfastly continued along the same path. Both Norman Lindsay and his brother and fellow artist, Lionel, resisted modernism. Indeed, Lionel Lindsay called modernism : “The Cult of Ugliness” and they distinctly saw it as a threat to the Australian national identity and civilization itself.
However, my introduction to Norman Lindsay pre-dates my awareness of all these “isms”. When I was a little girl. My mother gave me a book for Christmas… The Magic Pudding , which was written & illustrated by Norman Lindsay. For some reason, I didn’t read the book at the time, just as both my kids have managed to ignore the beautiful, hardcover edition I bought for them at around the same age. Surely, I must’ve read it at some point. The illustrations are very familiar and the story line more or less came back to me tonight, as I powered through it online.
The Magic Pudding was published in 1918 and tells the story of a magic pudding, which grows back after a slice is eaten. Moreover, you just have to whistle and the pudding changes flavour. Clearly, such a pudding was worth a fortune, and the plot centres around the battles between the pudding owners and the conniving pudding thieves. While I’m focusing on the illustration side of the book, the creative use of language throughout reminds me of Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) in Fawlty Towers (who I just found out played Alfred the Pudding in the movie based on the book). How about you try reading this out after a few drinks:
‘Of all the swivel-eyed, up-jumped, cross-grained, sons of a cock-eyed tinker,’ exclaimed Bill, boiling with rage. ‘If punching parrots on the beak wasn’t too painful for pleasure, I’d land you a sockdolager on the muzzle that ‘ud lay you out till Christmas. Come on, mates,’ he added, ‘it’s no use wastin’ time over this low-down, hook-nosed tobacco-grabber.’ And leaving the evil-minded Parrot to pursue his evil-minded way, they hurried off in search of information. 
Yet, while the language is comical and entertaining, Lindsay’s illustrations bring the story to life with his incredible drawings. These include: Albert the Pudding, Bunyip Bluegum, the Koala; Sam Sawnoff, the penguin; Watkin Wombat and the Possum.
However, there was a lot more to Norman Lindsay than the Magic Pudding. However, to get to know that side of Norman Lindsay, I had to grow up. I can’t remember which came first…the movie Sirens starring Elle McPherson, or visiting his former home at Falconbridge in the Blue Mountains and seeing his obsession with the nude in its unrestrained splendour. He didn’t hold a lot back. Indeed, some of his works were very controversial.
The first major controversy of Norman Lindsay’s career erupted in Sydney in 1904 when the pen and ink drawing, Pollice verso, 1904, was displayed in the twenty-fifth Annual Exhibition of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. A huge debate erupted over the painting, which was seen as “blasphemous”and debauched by its detractors. Indeed, it landed Lindsay in a lot of hot water, which carried over into the pages of The Bulletin, where Lindsay worked as an illustrator. Three years later, Lindsay sent it to Melbourne for display in the Sydney Society of Artists’ First Melbourne Exhibition, which opened at the Guild Hall in Swanston Street on 25 October 1907. Most astounding for Lindsay, Pollice verso was purchased from the exhibition by the Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria for the extraordinary sum of 157 guineas and 10 shillings.
While Lindsay might condemn me as a “wowser”, I am much more comfortable with his Magic Pudding sketches, than his more “interesting” nudes.
Meanwhile, today I uncovered another Norman Lindsay gem: Creative Effort: An Essay in Affirmation, which was published in 1924, which covers the meaning of life and art, drawing on philosophical concepts and is heavily influenced by the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche. It was mind-boggling reading, especially as I was really zooming through it. However, I’ve jotted down a few quotes, which I intend to follow up later…
“One thing alone in existence is manifest, permanent, indestructible, and that is the individual effort to create through thought and beauty. This passion to create something finer than the creator himself is the one, permanent and enduring element in man, and since creative effort is the rarest, most difficult achievement, it remains the greatest stimulus to high development- and this development is life”.
“But evil must be measured by its reach, its aim, its capacity to destroy the highest. Therefore, its attack must be in an effort to pervert, mislead and destroy the creative impulse
“Pain and exultation, Beauty and Ugliness, Good and Evil, these are all part of the Test. Without them there is no development – no leap upwards into the gigantic problems of Futurity.”
“But the problem of Common man is not effort, it is the desire to escape effort.
So, after cramming my head full of all of this today, I am somewhat prepared to start writing to Norman Lindsay…
Letter to Norman Lindsay
I don’t know whether you ever felt torn between your creative drive and inspiration and the realities of family life. However, I’m burning the midnight oil and it’s getting far too late to wax lyrically about anything. I have an early start and need to get my daughter ready for a dance Eisteddfod. Clearly, it doesn’t take much for my mind to fill up with research and I should be thinking about tutus instead of the meaning of life.
However, after reading snatches of your Effort: An Essay in Affirmation, I thought you might be a good one to direct this rather weighty question to:
What is the meaning of life? Has it become any clearer for you since you crossed over to the other side?
I’d appreciate your help.
Letter from Norman Lindsay
Thank you very much for your letter. It’s forced me into conversing with that Kandinsky chap, although I did enjoy sharing letters with Hans Heysen.
All I’ll simply say is not to be afraid of death. Indeed, death is birth. After all, “why should the change in this life to the next be anymore stupendous than the arrival of Life on Earth?”
I hope that helps.
Norman Lindsay, Creative Effort.
 The Magic Pudding: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23625/23625-h/23625-h.htm pg 53
 Norman Lindsay, Creative Effort pp 20-21.
 Ibid p 45.
 Ibid p 48.
 Ibid p 59
 Ibid pg 52.
“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation… A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.”
― Henry Miller,
Do you remember those snazzy red telephone booths from back in the day? Well, that’s what I thought of, when I stumbled across the little red book box at our local park. It was drop dead gorgeous. Indeed, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to take it home with me…along with the book. Designed to withstand the weather, it houses an arm full of books. The concept is, that you take a book and leave a book. So, it operates as a free, community-minded, book exchange.
How good is that?!!
Well, I guess the system is only as good as it’s “clientelle”. Like those roadside food stalls with an honour box to leave your money, this system depends on trust. Integrity. Honesty. You need to be a giver and a taker.
Not a cheat and book thief like yours truly, who took a book without leaving one behind. Well, I didn’t have a book with me, and I do plan to drop one back. I truly do, even though I find it exceptionally hard to part with any of my books. Indeed, they might need a crow bar to pry the book out of me.
So, what was the book? It was Alexander McCall Smith’s: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I have other books in the series, but not the first one. So, it was a good find.
Now, I just need to read it.
Looking at my book pile, that could be a problem…along with parting with a book.
Humph…no one said that it had to be one of MY books, did they? That definitely puts a different slant on it.
Do you have anything like this book exchange system where you live? It’s a great idea!
PS Just a little coincidence. I’m currently reading Markus Zusak’s: The Book Thief. Obviously, it’s led me astray.
PPS: It turns out that the little red book box in our local park, has “friends”. Known as “little free libraries, they’re the brainchildren of our local library. What a great idea. Sounds like I should be investing in a new trench coat to transport my book choices in appropriate attire. Wouldn’t that be great! Much better than a brown paper bag.
For me, it’s a no brainer. Hugh McKay’s seventh novel, Selling The Dream is a must read.
In case you haven’t heard of Hugh McKay, he’s an accomplished Australian social researcher and best-selling author of eighteen books, including seven novels. I heard him present at the Sydney Writers’ Festival a few years ago, where he well and truly lived up to my very high expectations. He has amazing insight and can well and truly read in between the lines. More to the point, he takes us on the journey with him. So, you can learn a hell of a lot from Hugh McKay, who is undoubtedly a man of great substance and wisdom. Words I don’t throw around lightly.
If you have been following Beyond the Flow for some time, you might’ve noticed, that I very rarely do book reviews. This is no coincidence. Partly, it’s because I have a huge book pile, which is largely untouched. Moreover, I tend to feel that writing the odd book review bears more weight, unless you run a book review blog. I should also add, that I don’t finish books which don’t appeal on some level, let alone write a review. Indeed, I rarely write a bad review of any sort, although I’m about to spread the word about a brand of children’s vitamins which taste disgusting, despite being labelled: “chewable”.
So, when you see me write a book review and read that I couldn’t put the book down, you should take notice. Even more so, when I tell you that I bought this book for my Dad’s birthday, but read it BEFORE I gave it to him. Obviously, that says this book is not only good. It’s very good! That’s very high praise from an Australian. (After all, “not bad” would be an Australian’s equivalent to an American’s “awesome” or something to that effect.)
Although reading a book before you gift it is poor form, my Dad’s a practical man. He’ll understand the logic in reading it while it’s here. Moreover, as a voracious reader, he’ll be grateful that I’ve bought him a book so good, that I couldn’t wait for him to read it first. I can also see Dad with his nose stuck in this book and laughing his head off, just like he did when I gave him: The Rosie Project. I’m really looking forward to talking it over with him too, especially as one of their close friends used to head up a multi-national advertising agency. That could well influence how Dad reads the book.
I’ve actually worked for two advertising agencies myself and would be back working in one in a flash. However, these days I’d be on the creative, rather than the sales side.
That said, I’m honest to a fault and would be chewed up and spat out by the likes of the characters in this book. Characters, who I’m sure weren’t characters at all. They’re so very real.
I really don’t like spoiling a read by exposing too many details. Indeed, I would recommend not even reading the back cover of this book. It says too much. Aside from being a book by Hugh Mackay which for me is reason enough, I also bought it based on this endorsement by John Clarke on the front cover:
“If someone asked me who should write a satirical novel about the advertising business – someone with inside knowledge who could write well and was extremely clever and amusing – I’d say, ‘See if Hugh Mackay is available.'” John Clarke
“Lincoln The Hunter is living the dream. Universally admired and terrifically charming, he has a formidable reputation in the world of advertising, and is the jewel in the crown of agency KK&C.
When Linc is handed the reins of the high-budget, high-profile campaign for the groundbreaking new snack ‘The Ripper’, he knows it’s his chance to leverage his way to greater success and greener, more glamourous pastures. No matter that it will leave KK&C floundering in his wake …”
Unfortunately, despite loving this book and being utterly impressed with McKay’s use of language, being a gift, I obviously couldn’t do my usual thing of underlining my favourite turns of phrase. So,I did a quick flick through after my post-it notes fell out. There was one excellent phrase I managed to rediscover: “Fishing off the company pier” , which refers to having an affair with a work colleague.
If you haven’t heard of Hugh McKay, perhaps I haven’t said a lot to convince you to go and read this hilarious, insightful read. That is, other than my word for it. Without spoiling its many twists and turns, I’m just going to say “you’ve gotta have faith”.
You can get to know Hugh Mackay a little better by visiting his web site.
Have you read Selling the Dream or any of Hugh Mackay’s other books? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!
This week, I’m going to be a better host, and offer you a choice of coffee, tea or Bonox before we get started. I know there have been some weeks where I’ve forgotten my manners. My apologies. This week I’m going to try to be a better listener, reminding myself that I have two ears and one mouth.
So, how was your week?
Perhaps, we should come up with some kind of rating system to sum up the week. You know, the sort of thing they have on those survey questionnaires where you rate your attitude between one and ten. The trouble is, that my mind goes a bit blank by the time it’s Sunday and last Monday seems a lifetime ago.
In so many ways, it was a fantastic week.
On Monday night, my adult dances classes started up again and this term, we’re doing tap. This is the first time I’ve really done tap, other than a few classes at school. I wasn’t too sure how I’d go and wondered whether I’d go for six trying to walk in my tap shoes. I was also concerned that it would be too hard on my legs and I’d need to sit down. That was quite a realistic expectation and I was getting tired. However, fortunately we ended up shifting to the corner and taking turns, giving me a chance to rest. I really loved tap and felt almost euphoric by the end of the class. I might not be Ginger Rogers, but I extended myself out of my comfort zone and all this exercise is so good for me.
Tuesday night, I finally summoned up my courage and I cooked the Thai-Style Chicken Burgers from Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook for dinner and her Apple Crumble Slice for dessert. They were both sensational. You can read about my efforts Here
Sometime last week, my daughter also found out that she’s been accepted into the dance stream of the selective performing arts or CAPA class at our local high school. She’s thrilled about this, as she’s really got into dance this year. It’s really become her thing. Meanwhile, she’s still waiting on the results of the selective high school test. I think it will work out either way.
Friday morning, I went to My First Yoga Class Like the tap class, this was another tentative, new experience. Given my mobility and health issues, trying something new can be more daunting and those usual fears and concerns ramp up a bit, sometimes to the point of paralyzing panic. However, my physiotherapist had recommended this particular yoga class because it’s being taken by an occupational therapist. All of us in the class, have the same physio and it’s turning into what’s known as “adaptive yoga”. They have the same thing in other sports. It just means that its designed for people with disabilities. I loved yoga, particularly the last 15 minutes where we lay on our mats under a blanket and wearing lavender scented eye-masks and falling into a deep state of relaxation. I had such a glowing sense of well-being at the end. Needless to say, I’ll be back next week.
In between all these upbeat happenings, I’ve steadily been reorganizing our home. A few months ago, I received a government assistance package for people with disabilities called the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). In addition to receiving occupational therapy and physio at home, I also get 7 hours of cleaning and a mentor for 7 hours. So far, we’ve been focusing on reorganizing and getting rid of stuff. I don’t know quite how I feel about all of this. There a lot of stuff to process and you have to decide what you’re going to do with each and every item, which becomes quite draining after awhile. The other problem is that you pull all this stuff out of nooks and crannies, but it doesn’t seem to fit back in. Inevitably, I’m left with huge mounds of stuff and need some kind of compacting system…something like the station guards on Japanese bullet trains who heave commuters into the train. Today, I just wanted to move a book shelf about 40 cm to the left, but because I needed to empty everything out of it, it became a massive and really quite overwhelming job. Both our kitchen table and another large foldout table were both piled with books. Indeed, I had enough books left over after I’d filled the bookshelves to fill another book case. Unfortunately, I’ve only found about ten I can part with.
My son did offer to burn the extra books. I told him that burning books was a crime and you could be sent to jail. He’s 13 now and he knew better, but I almost got him.
I also had a run in with an Obstinate Clothes Horse
By the way, last week I mentioned that I’d taken our son to Emergency with weird symptoms. Thanks for your concern and best wishes. He seems to be doing quite well and doctors are suspecting migraine aura, without the accompanying headache. Still, that generated medical appointments with more to come just to be sure. Next week I also have an appointment with my rheumatologist in Sydney. So, there’s another day gone.
I am starting to feel quite conflicted by the amount of time which is going into sorting the house versus do my writing and research. While I was happy to put them aside short term, getting the house sorted is turning into a long term, intensive project and almost a full time job. While I want the whole family to become more organised and sorted, it does come at a cost to me. I am now conjuring up ways to get the kids to do more. Kids seem to be rather pampered these days, and have taken to enslaving their parents. I’m now needing to turn the tables a bit. Get us all working together as a team, when none of us is exactly what you’d call team players. We seem to operate better as Lone Rangers.
By the way, I also wrote a flash for Friday Fictioneers. Every week, I marvel at what enters my brain for these challenges. It’s always such a long way from my everyday life in an Australian beach town. This week’s was Missing: Kings Cross, Sydney.
Hope you’ve had a great weekend. It’s now Sunday night here and I’m heading off to find something for dessert. Sweet Week on Masterchef starts in ten minutes. My laptop could well be in danger as I drool at the screen.
This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Ally over at Nerd In The Brain. You can click on the linky and I hope you’ll join us.
Welcome to Day Three of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.
As you may be aware, we’re Travelling Around Tasmania Alphabetically during April, which could involve some very interesting twists and turns and I’ll somehow have to draw our path on a map at the end of the month. I’m expecting it to resemble a spider’s web with threads darting all over the place. After all, we’re hardly travelling for economy, are we?!!
Today, we’re heading South from Bridport in the North-East to Campbell Town, which is in the Midlands region. However, before we reach Campbell Town, we’ll be driving via Scottsdale and into Launceston via the notorious Sidling Range, where the government hasn’t straightened out the vicious hair-pin bends or even installed guard rails. Although the famed Targa Tasmania Rally goes through the Sidling (with the locals watching out with great expectations of doom, gloom and action-packed crashes), most of us try not to eat before tackling this road. It’s seriously rough and you don’t want those Cornish Pasties going to waste!
While mere mortals and Mainlanders quiver and shake at the prospect of tackling the Sidling and usually take an alternate route, my husband’s face lights up glowing like a neon sign. He might’ve moved to the Mainland 30 years ago, but every single one of those hazardous twists and turns has been tattooed into his muscle-memory…not that I’m about to suggest he tackles the road blind-folded. Our car might be able to fly. However, landing equipment was NOT included.
Anyway, after surviving the Sidling, we’re clipping the outskirts of “Lonnie” (Launceston- pronounced Lonnceston in “Tasmanian”) and heading South.
Our claim to Campbell Town fame, is Geoff’s third Great Grandfather, James Newton, who scored himself a brick on the Convict Brick Trail, which is dedicated to some of the nearly 200,000 convicts who were transported to Australia for almost 100 years from 1788 onwards. It runs along the footpath on High Street, commencing outside the historic premises known as the Fox Hunters Return, which is adjacent to the Red Bridge. It extends into the CBD on the western side and to the IGA Supermarket on the eastern side.
Obviously, this trail is rather different to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and could well be renamed the Campbell Town Walk of Infamy. Well, not exactly. Most of these convicts passed well under the radar.
While we’re in Campbell Town, I recommend you visit the Book Cellar located in the historic Fox Hunters Return, an 1830’s coaching inn. Being a self-confessed book-aholic, I had a field day in this place. I managed to pick up a book which had reprinted the writings’s of Geoff’s Great Great Uncle, Daniel Griffin who was a journalist. His writings included a series on the local history, which included quite a lot of family details. There was also a book about the history of Scottsdale, which included photos of a couple of my husband’s school teachers. That was another must have. Lastly, I picked up a Tasmanian school cookbook and plan to make Jelly Slice sometime. I’ve never seen it outside Tassie.
Before leaving picturesque Campbell Town, I’ll let you into a local traveller’s secret. Campbell Town has a public toilet which remains open 24 hours.
Well, you might laugh at the mention of that. However, Tasmania isn’t New York and the city which never sleeps. Tasmania closes at 5.00 PM on the dot other than the local take ways and you’ll find they’re generally shut by 7.00PM. We ended up ordering many counter meals at the local pub and yes, we were very thankful to find this toilet at about 10.00 PM.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our visit to Campbell Town and feel free to hang around and have a look. There’s so much to see!
PS Here’s a link to a more comprehensive port I wrote about Campbell Town while we were down there back in January: Campbell Town.
Last Thursday, while I was being led astray by detour after detour after detour, I felt a strong twitch which turned into something of a magnetic pull and before I knew it, I was inside yet another bookshop.
Yikes! There’s something about bookshops for me, which is like the call of the wild and I am absolutely powerless to stay away. Like the children being lured away by the Pied Piper of Hameln, I am always lured in,. Moreover, shame upon shame upon shame, I almost never leave empty handed. Resistance is futile. It’s beyond my control.
Anyway, last Thursday I went on a bit of an “excursion”. To be exact, it started the moment I left the doctor’s surgery in St Leonards when instead of catching the train North towards home, I jumped platforms and was soon click clacketting my way across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, through the city and alighting at Kings Cross Station. From there, I explored the Anne & Otto Frank Exhibition at the Sydney Jewish Museum and then took a right and stumbled across Darlinghurst Gaol, which is now the National Art School. Struck by it’s imposing sandstone architecture, I HAD to explore it further especially as I had my camera with me. Before long, I was in Surry Hills, my usual stomping ground.
That’s where I stumbled across The Oscar & Friends Bookshop.
Well, in terms of budget control and not spending any money, I kept stumbling over.
Or, you could look at it on the bright side and say I only bought two books. One is a gift for my brother so I won’t give it away but the book, which I bought for myself, was very pertinent:
Tim Harwood’s Messy: How to Be Creative & Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World.
‘Utterly fascinating. Tim Harford shows that if you want to be creative and resilient, you need a little more disorder in your world. It’s a masterful case for the life-changing magic of cluttering up’ – Adam Grant
Ranging expertly across business, politics and the arts, Tim Harford makes a compelling case for the creative benefits of disorganisation, improvisation and confusion. His liberating message: you’ll be more successful if you stop struggling so hard to plan or control your success. Messy is a deeply researched, endlessly eye-opening adventure’ – Oliver Burkeman
Now, I know that when you’re a bit quirky and spend your life swimming against the flow, you can get rather excited when you finally find someone who agrees with your point of view…AT LAST!! Indeed, given the thrill of finding a so-called published expert supporting your long held philosophical stance when you’ve been as a lone ranger on a tiny Pacific atoll, is such a relief that you don’t even question whether the author’s legit. Indeed, here’s finally the proof you’ve always been looking for that messy desks beat tidy desks. Yippee!
Anyway, as you might gather finding Tim Harford’s book is a good enough reason to smile.
However, as I’m leaving the bookshop, I spotted a bicycle, which had been painted in luscious rainbow colours and I was in heaven.
Indeed, I thought about riding that rainbow bike right up into the sky and into the heavens. That was, until I spotted the very secure bike chain.
While everyone has their own perspective of what rainbows mean to them, I love all the bright colours and how rainbows are formed by that mingling of sun and rain which must be viewed from the correct angle in what must be a fusion of magic and science.
Rainbows make me smile.
Hmm…and now thanks to Tim Harford I can ignore all the crap on my desk until my keyboard gets buried again and a rescue mission is required.
What has made you smile this week?