In 1950s Sydney, radical artist Rosaleen Norton hits the headlines with allegations of satanic rituals, unexplained murders and sex orgies. Eventually the relentless scandals lead to the downfall of her famous high society lover Eugene Goosens, the acclaimed orchestral conductor. Rosaleen Norton becomes a celebrity witch, titillating the public by writing her own stories. But was her witch persona performance art?
Forty years after her death, the film explores the life, work and beliefs of the most persecuted, prosecuted and daring female artist in Australian history – Rosaleen Norton. Told "in her own words", the film showcases never before seen artworks, writings and scrapbooks.
At the vanguard of feminism and the counter culture revolution, Rosaleen Norton was persecuted for her sexuality and refusal to conform. Today there is a resurgence of interest in her art. This is the extraordinary true story of a fearless woman outlaw and an insight into the work of an undiscovered genius.
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
BEHIND THE SCENES
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
The Witch of Kings Cross is a feminist manifesto, exploring the themes of censorship, moral panic, religious freedom and the media’s demonisation of outspoken and powerful women.
Rosaleen Norton’s intellect and artistic talents have been overshadowed by the scandals in her life. Her work has been ignored and she has been placed in the ‘wacko’ basket of Australian art history. This film challenges that view by showcasing never before seen art works and writings. If Norton was born ten years later, could she have been as big as Whiteley? If she was a man, would cultural institutions be interested in the rare art and artefacts that have been uncovered by the filmmakers today?
Rosaleen Norton deserves recognition as an artist and philosopher. Women’s history deserves a forum in the international cultural landscape.
“Women have always been an equal part of the past. We just haven’t been a part of history.” Gloria Steinem.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
The outreach for this film centres on raising awareness and appreciation of Norton’s life and work, and the important role of the ‘outsider’. The film provokes intellectual discussion about the inclusion of art and ideas that confront us. By showing the struggles faced by women artists in the past, we can ensure that the same prejudices don’t continue today.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
We want Rosaleen Norton to receive international recognition and long overdue respect. We want the film to be a wake-up call for major Australian cultural institutions. We hope to stage an exhibition of Norton’s work. We want the Art Gallery of NSW to purchase at least one major painting. We want to provoke debate about the ‘gaslighting’ of women artists.
Importantly, we want policy changes in the arts. Less than 10% of all Australian history documentaries have been about women, and this pattern is continuing today. This is a national disgrace and must change.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
We have a partnership with the City of Sydney, through a cultural arts grant. This will allow access to the City libraries for talks and screenings at City venues.
We have a partnership with Mysteria Maxima Media, for screenings in art galleries in Australia and New Zealand as well as some immersive screenings with live music and performers.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
On a story level, we aim to inspire audiences to pursue their passions in life, regardless of any knockbacks. We hope that audiences will be moved by the universal themes in the film and seek a closer spiritual connection with nature.
On an impact level, viewers from cultural institutions should see Norton’s work from a new perspective and be interested in exhibiting her work. Policy makers, and government arts bodies should look closely at their selection criteria and understand how they are excluding the work of women artists, historians and filmmakers. Then they should change the criteria to be more inclusive.
The film’s social media profile and the publicity that was generated through a crowd funding campaign has proved that there is a large, diverse audience hungry to see the film. We are confident that we can engage with a solid audience numbers in Australia and internationally.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
• Audience attendance figures at film festivals and screenings
• Collaboration with galleries, community arts organisations and social institutions to screen the film, and gather data on their engagement.
• Diversity and volume of publicity and debate generated in print and online media around the release and promotion of the film.
• Curriculum inclusion and engagement by educators in the secondary and tertiary sectors.
• Engagement with the public through social media, gallery and screening attendances.