Artist and occultist Rosaleen Norton was born a hundred years ago today in Dunedin, New Zealand, with a thunderstorm raging across the city and war rampaging throughout the world – and frankly things never really got a lot calmer for ol’ Roie. After she adopted my hometown of Sydney as her own she became a constant magnet for controversy, the “Witch of Kings Cross”. As previously reported, there is a documentary of that name about Norton in the works and it seems to be shaping up well – see here for progress. The interviews look especially promising, and I recognise a few old Sydney faces among the talking heads. For all her eccentricity and a tendency to play up to her infamy, what emerges when you delve deeper into Rosaleen Norton’s life is a genuinely charismatic and essentially genial character with an earnest interest in paths less travelled, left-hand and otherwise. As role models go, you could do a lot worse.
To celebrate Norton’s centenary the New Zealand city of Wellington is hosting a “Night of the Witch” including a talk by Cynthia Crosse who, I was very excited to learn, is writing a biography of another great scarlet sheila, Leila Waddell.