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by Dr Sarah Engledow, 1 June 2006

Rennie Ellis photographs the self-proclaimed 'Witch of Kings Cross'.

Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross, 1970-71 by Rennie Ellis
Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross, 1970-71 by Rennie Ellis

Now best remembered as the woman whose perverse influence contributed substantially to the downfall of conductor Eugene Goossens, self-proclaimed witch and artist Rosaleen Norton was one of Kings Cross's infamous identities.

She reportedly painted the walls of the Kashmir coffee shop in Kings Cross with her satanic 'visions', leading to prosecution for both artist and proprietor. Rennie Ellis descnbes meeting Norton in his book Kings Cross Sydney. As he approached her tiny room at the rear of a rundown terrace he noticed an 'uncanny smell, something like the smell of a very old book'. He found it easy to believe she was a witch -'she is ugly ... there is a wart on her chin with hairs growing from it... and there rs a sinister all-knowing gleam about her... from her ears hang miniature skulls'. Rennie told her as he was leaving that 'despite all the stories I'd heard about her she'd been very friendly and human. 'Don't say that!' she snapped - 'I may be many things but I am certainly not human'.