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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross, 1970-71

Rennie Ellis

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 50.4 cm x 40.4 cm, image: 43.5 cm x 30.5 cm)

Rosaleen Norton (1917-1979) self-proclaimed witch and artist, is now best remembered as the woman whose perverse influence contributed substantially to the downfall of conductor Eugene Goossens. At the time this photograph was taken she was still one of Kings Cross's infamous identities. Ellis describes meeting her 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 is 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'.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2006
© Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive
www.RennieEllis.com.au

Accession number: 2006.59

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Rennie Ellis (age 30 in 1970)

Rosaleen Norton (age 53 in 1970)

Subject professions

Public identity

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis

No shirt, no service

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Bon Scott and Angus Young photographed by Rennie Ellis are part of a display celebrating summer and images of the shirtless male.

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

Aussies All

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

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

Kinky Night. Impressions Club, 1987
Kinky Night. Impressions Club, 1987
Kinky Night. Impressions Club, 1987
Kinky Night. Impressions Club, 1987

Aussies all

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2006

The exhibition Aussies all features the ecclectic portrait photography of Rennie Ellis which captures Australian life during the 70s and 80s.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.