Norman Lindsay Gallery: Sirens in the Blue Mountains

Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum

Visiting the Norman Lindsay Gallery in the Blue Mountains became my dream ever since I saw the classic movie Sirens.

Sirens (1994) used the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum as a filming location, so it became a top Greek myth pilgrimage site for me.

The beautiful estate was once home to the late legendary Australian artist Norman Lindsay, who possessed a very keen interest in Greek mythology.

Sirens, the movie tells a small part of the life and times of the fascinating artist Norman Lindsay (1879-1969).

Elle Macpherson, who was one of the stars in the movie, made her first movie appearance at this special place, and that makes it even more special.

Satyr pursuing a Nymph, a sculpture in the garden (as shown above), is one of the great attractions at the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum.

The fantastic seahorse fountain is another magical sight in the garden (below).

Bronze copy Sea Horse Fountain Norman Lindsay Gallery Faulconbridg

Inside the gallery, you’ll also see beautiful Amazon-style female nude paintings.

What’s more, Norman Lindsay’s entire estate contains unique artwork in the form of paintings and sculptures.

Most tourists probably consider the biggest attraction in the Blue Mountains to be the Three Sisters — a famous rock formation with three peaks near Katoomba.

On the other hand, I found the best attraction in the Blue Mountains to be the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, where the three Sirens once appeared.

I couldn’t resist the siren call to visit the Norman Lindsay Gallery.

It is the main reason why I wanted to visit the Blue Mountains region in the first place.

Elle Macpherson is an Australian Goddess, siren, and one of the most beautiful supermodels ever. So visiting the Norman Lindsay Gallery was probably as close as I’d ever get to Elle, another reason I wanted to go there.

Surprisingly, the movie Sirens offers a few references to the hero Odysseus (Ulysses) from Greek mythology.

The Greek hero from the ancient past had himself strapped to the mast of his ship to stop him from jumping overboard to meet up with the alluring sirens.

In my case, there was no way I’d allow myself to miss out on seeing the beauties at the Norman Lindsay Gallery during my day trip to the Blue Mountains.

Unfortunately, I didn’t meet up with a brunette bombshell like Elle Macpherson, but I did talk to an attractive blonde lady who purchased a print of Venus.

I’ll tell you about the meeting a bit later on because it did seem symbolic.

Norman Lindsay Gallery – The Seahorse Fountain

When you observe Norman Lindsay’s former home from the street, it doesn’t give you any hint of what awaits in the garden.

Only when you approach the house does the beauty of the garden start to reveal itself.

The first thing to strike your curiosity is the satyr pursuing a nymph sculpture and the spectacular seahorse fountain.

I think the seahorse fountain is the most beautiful artwork you’ll find at the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, whether inside one of the buildings or outside in the garden.

Seeing the fountain made me feel like finding a comfy chair so I could sit down next to it with a cool drink in hand.

Norman Lindsay Gallery Garden

Here are some cute ducks walking past the impressive seahorse fountain.

If I could ever come back into this world as an animal, I think I’d choose to come back as a duck. It seems like a pretty good life to me.

The fountain is next to the main house, with a magnificent long verandah running along a couple of sides of the building, supported by thin white Greek-style columns.

Norman Lindsay – The Artist and Writer

Norman Lindsay was a writer, a painter, and an illustrator who lived from 1879 to 1969.

He caused a stir during his lifetime, mainly for creating nude artwork and due to some of his writings, which churchy people found objectionable.

J. F. Archibald employed Norman as an illustrator of cartoons at The Bulletin. From there, the relationship continued until his final cartoon in 1956 for the Melbourne Olympic Games.

In 1930, for some unholy reason, his second novel Redheap, regarding small-town life and social restrictions in Victoria, was immediately banned in Australia.

The novel Redheap remained on the prohibited list in Australia until 1958, even though it was readily available in other countries.

The Crucified Venus

The Crucified Venus would have to be Norman Lindsay’s most notorious artwork.

It was severely frowned upon by the Church and other Wowsers, as he called them.

The Crucified Venus by Norman Lindsay

Wowsers is a slang term that refers to people whose sense of morality drives them to deprive others of their sinful pleasures.

I was only aware of the expression after watching a Norman Lindsay documentary shown on the Sirens movie DVD as an added extra. He used the word Wowsers numerous times.

The film Sirens used the Crucified Venus as a central storyline theme.

This illustration of a Crucified Venus stemmed from Norman Lindsay’s belief that Christianity was a repressive force.

Wowsers hoped that Norman Lindsay would voluntarily remove the drawing from a Society of Artists’ exhibition in Melbourne, but that was never going to happen.

A Melbourne committee removed it but was reinstated about a week later when the Society of Artists president threatened to remove other artworks from the exhibit unless the artwork reappeared.

The Magic Pudding and other works

Many fondly remember Norman Lindsay for creating the much-loved Australian children’s book The Magic Pudding, first published in 1918.

It is still a popular children’s book and hasn’t been out of print since 1918.

Other books include A Homage to Sappho (1928), Mr. Gresham and Olympus (1932), and Pan in the Parlour (1933).

Nude artworks, which Norman Lindsay is well known for, hit you for six when you walk into a red room within the house gallery, which is jam-packed with them.

The slightest show of nudity during Norman Lindsay’s time was considered highly offensive to many people, so he was a great Australian rebel.

Inside the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum 

The Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, now owned by the National Trust, showcases a small number of female nude paintings.

What surprised me most was that many artworks possessed an Amazonian classical feel.

Norman Lindsay Gallery Room with Nude Female Paintings

He had female models come over to his place so he could paint them.

His wife Rose also modeled for him and inspired quite a few of the paintings.

You can also see a high-quality model ship on display with incredible detail and craftsmanship. In addition, various other miniature sculptures are seen throughout the building.

If you’re a fan of The Magic Pudding, you’ll also see some cheeky characters inside and outside the building.

When leaving the house, you’ll exit through a nice-looking gift shop. You can buy many interesting things inside the gift shop, including large prints of various artworks.

I bought myself a thin blue book about the Norman Lindsay Gallery, Springwood, by Helen Glad, a National Trust house series.

I asked about Helen Glad, and the person behind the counter told me that she was Norman Lindsay’s granddaughter. The book is excellent.

Norman Lindsay Gallery – The Garden and Sculptures

In my opinion, walking around the beautiful garden is the best experience at the Norman Lindsay Gallery. There are a few standout sculptures around the serene garden setting.

You can find this female nude sculpture situated next to one side of the house. The statue is said to be modeled on his second wife, Rose.

Sculpture modelled on Rose by Norman Lindsay next to House

Here’s a nymph standing between a satyr and a sphinx, which has Greek myth connotations.

Nymph beside a Satyr and Sphinx Norman Lindsay Sculpture

Another beautiful fountain that sadly wasn’t operational when I visited is seen in the photo below.

In the movie Sirens, it also wasn’t shown flowing with water. However, I have seen it working like a fountain in other pictures.

Nymph in Water Pond Norman Lindsay Grounds

You can see a few ducks enjoying this pond. It’s like a duck paradise.

The voluptuous nymph below is connected to a seat with a hedge surrounding her.

Chains have probably roped the seat off because ground staff don’t want visitors to sit on it.Seat with Nymph statue Norman Lindsay Gallery Grounds

The Sphinx and the Pool

Passing by a Sphinx leads down to a swimming pool, which Norman Lindsay built himself.

I wondered whether a vision from Sirens where the three beauties enjoyed themselves in a pool of water complete with water lilies would greet me when I explored the property.

One thing that disappointed me big time was learning that the movie’s memorable water scenes were not filmed at the property.

Instead, they were filmed in Glenbrook, at another location in the Blue Mountains.

I didn’t go down to the old pool mainly because it was cordoned off at the time.

There was a sign warning of unstable cliffs, so I didn’t bother to go for a walk into unknown territory, but I should have gone.

The Sphinx statue Norman Lindsay

I wasn’t aware of any pool on the property when I visited, but on reflection, the pool must have been the inspiration behind the water scenes in Sirens.

Norman Lindsay’s pool must have been a magical swimming spot in its day, though it appears hugely rundown from what I’ve seen in recent pictures.

The best thing about it seems to be a few interesting statues surrounding the pool.

There’s even a sculpture of a Siren from Greek mythology at the pool’s edge, complete with wings! It seems as if I somehow did resist a Siren call.

Movies inspired by Norman Lindsay

My real desire was to see a heavenly scene like this one from the movie Sirens.

Of course, that would never happen, but you can always dream big.

Sirens in Pool Movie Scene

I never realized that Norman Lindsay also wrote a book called Age of Consent, which became a movie.

Age of Consent starred Helen Mirren in 1969, the same year as Norman Lindsay’s death.

The film is about a frustrated painter seeking inspiration on a remote island on the Great Barrier Reef. Things change for him after a meeting with his long-awaited muse.

Age of Consent 1969 Film

Best Sculpture in Norman Lindsay’s Garden

The nymph fleeing from a satyr would have to be the most memorable sculpture.

Satyr pursuing a Nymph statue Norman Lindsay Gallery

I like how the tree in the background also seems to be repelled similarly.

The two best artworks at the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum have to be this masterpiece and the other has to be the Sea Horse Fountain.

Both are fantastic sights to behold.

If you’re fortunate, you may even be there when the wisteria is blooming. For this reason, I may have to revisit the place because I wasn’t so lucky.

Meeting Alex at the Norman Lindsay Gallery

One interesting conversation at the Norman Lindsay Gallery occurred when I met a blonde-haired lady close to the spot shown in the picture below.

Norman Lindsay House and Garden

We started talking, and she told me she liked The Magic Pudding as a child.

I even found out that one of the female sculptures had a tail. It was the kind of thing Norman Lindsay did, among other things.

The lady’s name was Alex.

You can see Alex in the photo below, which I took before meeting her.

Alex is a girl’s name of Greek origin, meaning “defending men” or “Protector of Mankind.”

Norman Lindsay Gallery House at the back

Only a few people were around the place on the day I went.

A slightly surreal thing occurred after our initial meeting. We met again at the road’s front entrance a bit later as I walked in again as Alex was leaving.

I had just been on a tour of the painting and etching studios. After a one-on-one tour, I went to the Norman Lindsay cafe for a quick look around since it was close by.

Because I didn’t know how to return to the house so I could take a few more photos, I wandered around, almost lost.

As I walked around, I found myself again at the Norman Lindsay Gallery’s entranceway to the property. It is where I first entered the property through the stone fence.

A Sign from Venus, the Goddess of love

Alex was at the gate, leaving the place, and she was holding a largish print. I asked her what it was, and she told me it was a print of Venus.

I have received a sign from Venus in Adelaide, but I never anticipated receiving a divine sign from Venus while in Sydney’s Blue Mountains.

I should have asked Alex if I could take a photo of her holding Venus, but I felt awkward about it.

I wish I did because it would have made a great photo for this post.

Ah well, it probably wasn’t meant to be. At least I have a tiny pic of the woman.

How to get to the Norman Lindsay Gallery in Faulconbridge

Catching the train from Sydney’s Central railway station to the Blue Mountains is an excellent way to reach the place.

The train takes about 90 minutes to get to the Blue Mountains, stopping at several towns along the way.

It stops at Glenbrook, Springwood, Faulconbridge, Wentworth Falls, Leura, and Katoomba.

I advise stopping at the Faulconbridge railway station to get to the Norman Lindsay Gallery.

Walking to the Norman Lindsay Gallery

From there, you can walk to the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum.

Walking from the train station is quite long, at about 6.5 km.

The walk felt like it was mostly going downhill once you exited the pathway running along the main highway, so it was easy enough.

Walking there was quite enjoyable, but getting back would be much more difficult without transportation.

There is a bus you can catch to get back, but the last one seemed to leave the Norman Lindsay Gallery quite early in the afternoon (around 2 pm).

So be prepared for a long walk back if you don’t get there early enough. Not sure how hard it would be to get a taxi or Uber to take you back to a train station.

You can head back to Faulconbrige or Springwood train station since it doesn’t matter much.

The Norman Lindsay Gallery seems to be about halfway between the two train stations.

A Free Ride

I was fortunate. One of the ladies who had finished working at the Norman Lindsay Gallery saw me walking back up a quiet street and stopped her car.

She offered me a lift to the train station after telling me I didn’t look like an ax murderer.

That was great to know. So I happily accepted the free ride.

It would have been very tiring walking back to the train station.

If you walk from the Faulconbridge train station to the Norman Lindsay Gallery, I strongly recommend organizing how you’ll get back before you go.

You want to make the most of your time, especially if you have more things to do in the Blue Mountains during your planned day trip.

Quick Guide to the Norman Lindsay Gallery

All you need is a couple of hours at the Norman Lindsay Gallery to appreciate the wonders of this beautiful Australian attraction.

If you want to escape Sydney for a day, I highly recommend going on a day trip to the Blue Mountains, where you can enjoy the Norman Lindsay Gallery and the beautiful garden.

It’s a great day out. Please don’t leave it too late in the day, though, because the last entry can be at 3 pm, with a close time of 4 pm.

It cost me $17 to enter the house, but you can spend time in the garden for free, and it’s worth visiting the estate for the beautiful garden alone.

Seeing the satyr pursuing a nymph will stay with you forever.

Official Website: Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum

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Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum Blue Mountains