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Charmed by the Rose

by Anthony Browell, 1 June 2004

Anthony Browell reminisces about meeting Rose Lindsay, the wife of Australian artist Norman Lindsay.

Rose Lindsay, 1970 by Anthony Browell
Rose Lindsay, 1970 by Anthony Browell

In 1971 I was a young man in a minivan, commissioned by Pol Magazine, for whom I was doing most of the portraits at that time, to photograph Rose, the wife of Norman Lindsay. I didn't do any research before the shoot, so I turned up at this large, leafy house in Woolwich, Sydney after lunch one day, not knowing what to expect.

I was shown into quite a large dining-room by the owner of the house, Rose's daughter Jane Glad, and left to set up the light (just one), and get ready, not having a clue who would come in the door. After a few minutes, an ancient lady was wheeled in, and I met the formidable Rose Lindsay.

A handsome, elegant lady, with a great presence and silent authority, wearing a dress she had made herself, like most of her clothes, and a fabulous chiffon scarf, which she normally wore to cover her elderly neck. On the wall behind her was The Lute Player, a painting done by Norman in 1924, in which Rose posed for all three women.

So how could I miss?

With such marvellous things in front of the camera, it was just a matter of getting the balance and the lighting right, and I had something good to take home, something I felt was very good.

Just before I started shooting, I said to Rose, "Mrs Lindsay, do you think you could please raise your head just a little?" Her answer, "Don't you talk to me like that, young man, just say " ROSE... PUT YOUR HEAD UP!"

I look at the picture now, it hangs in my house, and I realize how fortunate I've been to meet some of these true individuals, and to have had the opportunity to record some of them so rewardingly.

Pol Magazine ran the photographs I took that day, full-page, double page, and a couple of small ones also. I remember looking at the article, and feeling very warm inside.

Rose had bad arthritis, hence the wheelchair: she lived in Woolwich with her daughter Jane Glad's family from 1956 until her death in 1978, visiting Norman at Springwood for the weekends. Norman died in 1969.

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