“I am a night painter, so when I walk out to the studio the next morning, the delirium is over. I creep into the studio fearfully, to see the results of the night before. The feeling is one of wonder, I think ‘My word, did I do that?’”
This is the first in my series of Legendary Garden Studios about the spaces which inspired and furnished famous works of art.
This garden room was the very first I came across as a creative space, during my 1996 world travels. The Blue Mountains, in New South Wales is a unique area. It enjoys the temperament of the rainforest and the wildlife, smells and sounds which it cultivates. Yet for much of the year it appears dry, dusty and fire-flashed. Villages are timber-framed and rickety.
Norman Lyndsay’s painting studio is a timber building in an expansive garden. There are still splashes of coloured oil paint on the walls and floor, an old desk and aesthetic arrangements of brushes. Close by, his house is a spacious, colonial style, Victorian mountain ranch – a gallery of his work now adorns the ground floor. A separate etching studio in the garden where his wife’s printing press was housed lies hidden among the garden trails.
I imagined his life. He would stroll between his garden rooms, mini-gardens running into each other, languish with the models by one of his unique ponds or fountains. Sketch from life in bohemian settings then retire for days on end to his garden painting studio where he indulged in coloured detail on canvas. Moonlight sparked life into the many garden sculptures, fountains ran wild around body forms and animals. Rare and beguiling tree specimens created depth and division to the many garden areas. A magical place.
The national trust have added a sympathetic garden shop to the home where one can purchase silk scarves in blues and greens, ceramics by a local artist or Lyndsay prints. Born in 1879, Norman Lyndsay was also an author, illustrator, sculptor and cartoonist but his most acclaimed works were oil painting. He’s considered one of Australia’s most successful artists.