Life On The Job


Famous or Historic People

Ruby Lindsay (20 March 1885 - 12 March 1919) - Graphic Designer, Cartoonist, Illustrator & Painter

Also known as Ruby Lind.

Ruby Lindsay was among the first women in Australian graphic design. In the early-20th century she pursued a full-time career in magazine and book illustration, likely the first woman in Australia to successfully do so.

Ruby was an early 20th century Melbourne and London illustrator and cartoonist. She was a member of the influential Lindsay and (by marriage) Dyson families. She won several awards in her own right and after her marriage to Will Dyson, collaborated with her husband on black-and-illustrations and posters.

Ruby Lindsay created a beautiful array of work during the arts and crafts movement, in the early 1900s. This was a period when artists and designers reacted against the mass production of the Industrial Revolution and focused instead on handmade work. Her designs included hand drawn type and posters, like a Sydney Society of Artists poster from 1907, and black and white illustrations for newspapers of the day, including The Bulletin, Punch and The Gadfly.

 

Portrait
Portrait of Ruby Lindsay
Image is out of copyright
(Source: Wikipedia)

Introduction

Ruby was born in Creswick, a gold rush town in Victoria, the seventh child and second daughter of Dr Robert Charles Lindsay and Jane Elizabeth, née Williams.

In the family she was Rube, younger sister of Perce, Lionel and Norm and older sister of Dan. Together, these five were the half of the family of the lively Dr Bob Lindsay to 'go in for art'.

The Artists in the Lindsay family were: Percival Charles (1870-1952), Sir Lionel Arthur (1874-1961), Norman Alfred Williams (1879-1969), Ruby (1885-1919) and Sir Ernest Daryl (1889-1976), artists and writers, were born at Creswick, Victoria, five of the ten children of Robert Charles William Alexander Lindsay (1843-1915), surgeon from Londonderry, Ireland, and his wife Jane Elizabeth (1848-1932), daughter of Rev. Thomas Williams, Wesleyan missionary.

Ruby as a young girl
As a young girl
(Source: Creswick)

Overshadowed

Lindsay’s visibility was overshadowed by the men surrounding her – her brothers Percy Lindsay and Sir Lionel Lindsay, who were also well known for cartoons they had published in The Bulletin; Norman Lindsay who was the author and illustrator of The Magic Pudding; and Daryl Lindsay, who was knighted for his services to art in 1963. Her eventual husband was the Australian artist and political cartoonist William Dyson (1880-1938). However, Lindsay went to great lengths to stand on her own two feet. She deliberately obscured her relationship to her famous brothers by changing her name and signing her work, after experimentation with Ruby Lindsay, Ruby Lyne, Ruby Lyn and even, at least once, Ruby Ramsbottom, to Ruby Lind.

Education:

Ruby attended the local state school and, with her sister Pearl, was tutored privately by a friend of the family. Darly [another brother] describes her, as a child, being obsessed with learning to draw, always sketching with a pencil and pad. Norman drew her, at age ten, drawing with pen and ink.

Encouraged by her elder sister Mary, who had her own thwarted ambitions, Ruby left home in the early years of the century, ostensibly to keep house for her eldest brother Percy but in reality to study art at the National Gallery School, Melbourne.

Ruby Lindsay
(Source: Southern Wild Co)

Employment & Experiences

Ruby was easily drawn into the milieu of freelance illustration. Her steady (but meagre) source of income for those years was as illustrator for the Hawklet; Ruby Lindsay was the fourth member of her family to be staff artist for that disreputable police gazette.

 

Lindsay drew occasionally for The Bulletin and illustrated William Moore's Studio Sketches (1906) and designed posters.

 In 1905 she designed the cover for The Waddy, a publication that ran for only one issue. It also included a full-page drawing by Will Dyson. The next year she illustrated William Moore’s Studio Sketches . From 1906 to 1908 she joined the Dysons in drawing illustrations and cartoons for the Adelaide based magazine, The Gadfly (1906-08), edited by C.J. Dennis and A.E. Martin. Her cover illustration of the 27 March 1907 (2/66) which showed a young woman crossing the street being ogled by a line of men, could have been drawn from her own experience as she was acutely embarrassed at the attention her beauty received. Her illustrations were also published in the Sydney based Bulletin and Lone Hand. She became a regular illustrator for Steele Rudd’s Magazine and with Ruth Simpson and Ashton Murphy, she illustrated Back at Our Selection (1906), providing 11 drawings.

Picture Show
Poster for the Sydney Society of Artists' Picture Show, 1907.
Out of copyright

(Source: The Conversation)

When Percy Lindsay married in 1906 Ruby could no longer keep up the pretence of being his housekeeper, a fiction that had amused her siblings as she was notoriously uninterested in the domestic arts.

She was however determined to make her own path, and maintained an aggressive indifference to the attentions of those men who claimed they wished to further her career.

Gadfly cover
Cover illustration for The Gadfly, 1907
(Source: The Conversation)

In an undated letter to her brother Norman, written shortly before Percy’s wedding, Will Dyson wrote: 'She’s a silly little bugger in a lot of ways. She thinks she can take care of herself which I suppose she can but I am dam [sic] certain she doesn’t know enough to save herself from the nasty compromise of herself … She has had so many of these young pricks taking on themselves the airs of guardianship that she resents my attempts to direct her faltering footsteps—I who am a truly great man.'

He was perhaps not an impartial observer. On 30 September 1909, Will Dyson and Ruby Lindsay married at Creswick and shortly afterwards left for London, accompanied by Norman. The following year Norman was joined by his new partner, Rose Soady. When the Dysons declined to meet Rose, the relationship with Norman became decidedly strained.

In London Ruby Lind and Will Dyson collaborated on black-and-white illustrations and posters. Will concentrated on the figures while Ruby drew landscape backgrounds. Dyson also developed his career as a political cartoonist and caricaturist.

In England she continued with book illustrations, particularly of children's books. Her daughter Elizabeth [Betty] was born on 11 September 1911.

Fan
Drawings of Ruby Lind collected by Cecil Palmer (1920)
(Source: Wikipedia)

Ruby continued to paint fans, illustrated children books such as Naughty Sophia (London 1912) and sent back drawings to Lone Hand and the Bulletin. Domesticity appears to have honed her feminist instincts as she began to draw political cartoons for Christabel Pankhurst’s The Suffragette as well as posters supporting socialist causes, a political tendency she shared with her husband. One of her most arresting images was a lithograph poster produced in about 1912 with the slogan: 'Mothers! 'Make the World Fit for Me: Vote Labour’. The subject is a small naked girl with arms outstretched, presumably based on her daughter Betty.

Vote Labour
(Source: Southern Wild Co)

In 1912, she contributed illustrations to the book Epigrams of Eve by child welfare advocate and journalist Sophie Irene Loeb. She drew occasionally for the Hawklet, the Bulletin and regularly for the Adelaide satirical journal, the Gadfly (1906), illustrated books such as 'Rudd's' Back at Our Selection (1906) and William Moore's Studio Sketches (1906), and designed posters.

Awards/Accolades

At the 1907 Women’s Work Exhibition in Melbourne, Ruby Lind’s Book Lovers’ Library poster was awarded a first prize; she also won a silver medal and a special prize of five guineas for best Design exhibit.

She designed the First Class Diploma certificate awarded at the exhibition (a group of allegorical women), Eirene Mort 's design being chosen for the Second Class Diploma. Ruby Lind’s cartoon on the exhibition for the Bulletin was unusual in being sympathetic; it was also the only cartoon on the exhibition identified as being by a woman artist. Her work was beginning to attract critical attention.

Diploma
Ruby Lindsay 1907
(Source: The Conversation)

Ascent of Women
Ruby Lindsay 1907
(Source: The Conversation)

William Moore noted in the Native Companion (2 December 1907): 'She has turned out every variety of drawing, from book illustrations to designs for pantomimic costumes. As the designer of the prize diploma and the prize poster exhibited at the Women’s Exhibition, Ruby Lindsay must realise that she has already made a distinct advance.’ Moore later interviewed her for New Idea (6 December 1907, p.848) as a successful woman black and white artist who 'tried every form of black and white, from the poster to the book-plate’.

She was described by art critic Haldane MacFall as "the most remarkable woman in the pen-line now living" in his History of Painting (1911).

A
The ornamental letters A & B have a strong Australian flavour

B
(Source: WMOA)

Personal Life

In November 1903 her brother Lionel married Jean Dyson, whose three brothers, Ted, Will and Ambrose, managed to flourish in the risky world of freelance writing and illustration and she became close to the family.

On 30 September 1909 she married Will Dyson at Creswick and travelled with him and her brother Norman to London.

Ruby with husband Will and brother Norman
Ruby with husband Will Dyson and brother Norman
(Source: NPG)

Ruby and Will had one daughter, Betty (1911–1956).

During World War I she stayed in London with Betty while Will Dyson became Australia’s first official war artist. From family accounts it appears that she deprived herself in order to ensure that Betty’s health did not suffer with wartime rationing.

After the war [World War 1 - 1915 - 1918], her younger brother Daryl took her to visit relations in Belfast and Dublin. There she caught the influenza virus pandemic then sweeping Europe [the Spanish flu] and died in Chelsea a few days later on 12 March 1919.

Lindsay is buried in the same grave as her husband in Hendon Cemetery, London. Her name on the headstone is shown as "Ruby Lind".

Shortly after her death Will Dyson [her husband] published Poems: In Memory of a Wife (1919) and Cecil Palmer produced The Drawings of Ruby Lind (1920).

Ruby Lindsay’s art was preserved through the combined efforts of her husband, sister Mary, and her brothers Lionel and Daryl. Dyson privately published Poems in Memory of a Wife and also edited The Drawings of Ruby Lind (1920) published by Cecil Palmer.

Her siblings ensured that her original drawings entered public collections, especially that of the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Victoria. Daryl Lindsay, who had turned to art after he became Will Dyson’s batman in France, was especially active in ensuring that this sister was properly regarded in his memoir, The Leafy Tree (Melbourne 1965).

In his memoir The Leafy Tree, Daryl wrote of Ruby’s drive to break the suppressive female stereotype of the day. “Social engagements, affairs of the heart, all took second place to [her] overriding ambition to become a black and white artist,” he wrote. Lindsay was tough and showed how determination and a self-made image required an independent and forceful effort. She was “never without a sketch-book and pencil in her hands …”, Daryl wrote.

Even though she made a significant contribution, most have never heard of Lindsay because women working at this time were marginalised by their gender and society. Restrictive ideas about identity, roles and expectations were something Lindsay quietly challenged through her practice in graphic design.

Did You Know?

Ruby Lindsay has made great strides during the last few years. She received the gold medal for the best poster shown at the Women's Work Exhibition and her decorative drawings have always attracted attention.

The picture called "Carnival," which she exhibited at the last exhibition, under the auspices of the Victorian Artists' Society, was secured by His Excellency, the Governor, Sir Thomas Gibbon-Carmichael.
The Herald, Friday 1 October 1909
(Source: Trove)

Links:

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Australian Dictionary of Biography

ADB
bullet.gif (981 bytes) The Conversation 16 January 2019

The Conversation

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Design & Art Australia Online (DAAO)

DAAO
bullet.gif (981 bytes)National Portrait Gallery

NPG
bullet.gif (981 bytes)Josef Lebovic Gallery - The Finish

The Finish
bullet.gif (981 bytes)Wikipedia - Ruby Lindsay

Ruby Lindsay
Women's Museum of Australia & Old Goal Alice Springs:  - The Little Known Lindsay [PDF]

Local Copy
 
Gallery: more of Ruby's drawings and illustrations

Gallery 1
Ruby's work included ornamental letters like this one from Naughty Sophia by Winifred Letts, a children's book she illustrated with nearly 100 illustrations. (Source: NLA)
Gallery 2
Illustration for 'Naughty Sophia'
(Source: Art Gallery NSW)
Gallery
(Source: WMOA)
Gallery 4
Illustration for 'Naughty Sophia'
(Source: eBay)
Gallery
Illustration for 'Naughty Sophia'
(Source: eBay)
Gallery
Illustration for 'Naughty Sophia'
(Source: eBay)
Gallery
Illustration for 'Naughty Sophia'
(Source: Douglas Stewart)
Gallery 3
Illustration for Sunlight Soap advertisement
(Source: Art Gallery NSW)
Gallery
(Source: WMOA)
GalleryGallery
(Source: WMOA)

Activities

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Your Signature!

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

 

1. "However, Lindsay went to great lengths to stand on her own two feet. She deliberately obscured her relationship to her famous brothers by changing her name and signing her work, after experimentation with Ruby Lindsay, Ruby Lyne, Ruby Lyn and even, at least once, Ruby Ramsbottom, to Ruby Lind."

Here are some examples of Ruby's signatures:

Signature Signature Signature Signature
Signature Signature Signature Signature

A signature in art is essential to show the "provenance" of a piece of art. "Provenance is the history of ownership of a work of art, from its origin or source to its present location."

In other words, Ruby's signature shows the artwork was created by her.

2. You are to create a new signature for any artwork you create. This new signature has to be different to your usual signature and in fact, like Ruby, you are to change your name slightly.

3. Practice your new signature 10 times. Choose your best one. Cut it out and put on a Post-it note.

4. Put your Post-it note on a display board with other students' signatures and try to guess who owns what signature!

 

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Compare and Contrast: A piece of prose and it's illustration

High SchoolSecondary

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

Cooperative LearningCooperative Learning Activity

Introduction

Below is Ruby's illustration for a poem by 'Silas Snell'  [Edward (Ted) Dyson's pen name] that  appeared in The Bulletin in 1917.

Prose

1. Analyse

Analyse: What is the poem about?

Here is a transcript:

Ephemera

I was a rorty young pierrot,
In panniers you were a vision.
What was your name I many not know,
But we were born in realms Elysian
Where music raved with fine emotion,
And not one serious, worldly notion
Possessed the mad inhabitants,
Born but to laugh, and love, and dance.

What were we ere your lips touched mine
I know not, and it doesn't matter.
Existence stretched for us from nine
Till five next morn, 'mid merry clatter,
In iridescent colours shining,
With hands, and often lips, entwining.
Within those hours we had our day,
Lived, laughed, and loved, and passed away!

I speak of you and I, dear, yet
It was not I but some blessed creature
That left me thoughts I can't forget
And not another mutual feature.
What came of you, my day-fly tender -
A glorious death in all your splendor?
Far better than my wretched fate,
Reverted to the larva state!

 

a. List the "foreign" words in a column and in the second column guess what these words mean. In the third column, write up the meaning from looking at Google.

b. What is this poem about? Write down a few notes and ideas and then discuss with a group of 3 - 4 students.

2. Does Ruby's illustration match up to the poem? How? Give reasons.

 

Choice

3. Select a stanza or a line, and draw an illustration in the vein of Ruby.

OR

4. Use Ruby's illustration to create another stanza or a whole poem.

 

 

bullet.gif (981 bytes)Ruby Lindsay: A Community of Inquiry

High SchoolSecondary


Critical
Australian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking
Ethical Understanding Australian Curriculum General Capability: Ethical Understanding

PhilosophyPhilosophy

Cooperative Learning
Cooperative Learning Activity


TeacherTeacher

To read how a Community of Inquiry is conducted, click here.

Students


1. In a class circle, read the following article: ReadingThe Conversation 16 January 2019

The Conversation

2. After reading the stimulus material, in groups of two:

  • Students are to write a question or questions about the stimulus material from each of the four question quadrants (see below)
  • Students share the thinking questions with the class by writing up on a whiteboard
  • Select the most common question to discuss.
  • In a circle, conduct a discussion on this common question
  • Hold to the class discussion rules of:
    • one person speaks at a time
    • listen carefully to the speaker: listen for understanding; listen charitably
    • the speaker selects the next speaker
    • speakers are respectful and build on the previous speaker's point of view or questions that view logically
    • be prepared to think and take time to think
  • Keep a record of the other student questions to come back to them if needed
  • Provide closure so that all student questions are answered.

 

Question Quadrant

 

 

Materials sourced from
Australian Dictionary of Biography [Ruby Lindsay; ]
Design & Art Australian Online [Ruby Lindsay; ]
Wikipedia [Ruby Lindsay; ]
Southern Wild Co [Ruby Lindsay; ]
Antipodean [Ruby Lindsay; ]
Women's Museum Of Australia & Old Goal Alice Springs [The little known Lindsay PDF; ]

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