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Family printers discover Norman Lindsay art print

Tuesday, 01 December 2009
By Print21

Unique 1930s art reproduction process developed in Sydney by Hackett Studios is touched by two generations of printers at the Norman Lindsay Gallery.

Garth Hackett, sales and marketing director of Sydney’s Offset Alpine Printing, and his retired father Ron, former managing director of Offset Alpine, made the trip from Sydney to Springwood at the base of the Blue Mountains last weekend, to the National Trust-owned Norman Lindsay Museum and Gallery.

They were there to meet a lady named “Doreen” – not in the flesh but as a limited-edition Norman Lindsay print from 1932, that used eighteen separate colour plates and a patented reproduction process known as the “Hackett Colour Process for Printing and Reproducing Fine Arts.” The inventor was Garth’s great-grandfather and Ron’s grandfather, William Hackett.

Alongside the lithographic print and progressive colour proofs was a signed letter from Lindsay himself describing the result: “I have never seen better colour reproduction and consider superior to the best work done by English and American firms.” Lindsay felt that Hackett’s process reproduced an exact facsimile of his original in both colour and texture.

Pictured: Garth and Ron Hackett cradle their forbear’s masterwork, courtesy of the Norman Lindsay Gallery, Springwood, NSW.


The significance of the “Doreen” proof collection was discovered in the archive section by the National Trust’s volunteer and Print Specialist Colleen Crockett who contacted well-known James Cryer to find out more about the process. Cryer, whose own industry ancestry goes back over 100 years, made the connection with Garth Hackett intriguing the trio to the point that they braved the extreme heat and traveled to Springwood. In an astonishing coincidence, WJ Cryer & Co, printers of Dulwich Hill, once sub-let part of their premises to the fledgling Offset Alpine – Ron Hackett, Bob Pryke and Johh Raye – in the 1960s. Forty years later, these print dynasties were brought together by chance, and a great lithographic art print.

“After forty years, fate has brought two pioneering ‘print families’ together again – and all because of a beautiful barely-clad lady named Doreen; and a master 1930s craftsman named William Hackett,” said Cryer.

It is rare that Lindsay’s artworks were named after one of his models. Doreen Hubble must have been special to Lindsay for him to afford her this honour. But what of the original watercolour of “Doreen”? Its whereabouts are unknown and the Norman Lindsay Gallery would love to acquire it. If you have any information on “Doreen”, let James Cryer know at james@jdaprintrecruit.com.au

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