Daryl (and Joan)

Daryl was born in Creswick in 1889, the ninth of the Lindsay children. He was an artist like his brothers and sister, however, he probably became best known as the Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, the first president of the National Trust in Victoria and a member of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board.

Daryl left home for Queensland in 1909 to work as a jackeroo. He had grown up with horses in Creswick and this proved to be the foundation of a life-long love of them and an on-going subject for his painting and drawing. Early in 1916 Daryl enlisted in the AIF, was sent to England and saw action in France. In 1917 he was transferred to the unit of his brother-in-law, war artist Will Dyson. Dyson encouraged Daryl to draw and Daryl filled sketch books with diggers drawn on the front at Ypres and on the Somme. He sent them to England and they were published in the London Illustrated News and The Sphere. His Diggers Book of Sketches was published in Australia in 1919.

On leave in England in 1918, Daryl was asked to draw medical diagrams for the facial restoration unit at the Queen’s Hospital, Sidcup, Kent. Standing beside the surgeon in the operating theatre, he had to learn the difficult work of interpreting the surgical procedures for his diagrams.

He returned to Australia in June 1919. Following a successful exhibition of his war-time drawings and watercolours, he worked commercially designing posters for Sun Art studios including the Robur tea poster in which he featured a self-portrait as a young tea planter. He also made a series of drawings and watercolours for Mount Morgan gold mining company.

Daryl returned to England in 1921 where he met up with Joan Weigall. They had met earlier in Melbourne at the National Gallery Art School where Joan had studied from 1916-1920. They married in London in 1922 and after their wedding they returned to Melbourne. In 1925 they moved to their home, Mulberry Hill. Daryl continued working and painting watercolours in his spare time and in 1937 they travelled to Europe. In London he attended the ballet and sketched dancers backstage, a subject he continued later in Melbourne. When in London he was the first Australian to be elected to the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour.

Returning to Melbourne, Daryl was increasingly becoming involved with the Felton Bequest and he was appointed director of the National Gallery of Victoria in 1941, a position he held from 1941-1956. However, this meant giving up his own painting career. Daryl was also a member of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board from 1953, and in 1954, he helped found the National Trust for Victoria.

Daryl’s wife Joan was also an artist and author. In 1920, she had two exhibitions of her art work, but in later years she tended to write more than she painted. Joan’s most famous book is Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967) but she wrote an autobiography Time Without Clocks (1962) “All in varying degrees had an instinctive respect for what could be produced with a stump of a pencil or a penny bottle of ink. One hot afternoon in the summer holidays when an unnatural stillness had fallen on the house, Janey opened the door of the dining room, there to stand for a moment in silent wonder, close it and steal away.  The children were all there, even the little ones in petticoats, singlets and underpants all drawing away for the lick of their lives. All had pencils, bits of charcoal or crayon and pieces of paper. Some lay full length on the worn carpet, others face down-with stomachs pressed against the coolness of the mahogany table. Scrape of pencils; crumple of paper, a child without a handkerchief-probably young Daryl-snuffling happily in the corner. Finger of yellow sunlight falling between the long heavy curtains onto the hard breathing children entranced in their own timeless heaven.”

Daryl was knighted in 1957. He wrote an autobiography The Leafy Tree, published in 1965, and The Felton Bequest: An Historical Record 1904-1959, (1963).

In 1970, Daryl officially opened the Creswick Museum. When the museum was being established, he had provided valuable advice and support. He died in Mornington Christmas Day 1976 and his ashes with Joan’s are interned at Creswick Cemetery.

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