Historical information

Norma Bull in a window of 'Medlow', 1920s Her brother (Ronald) Richard was a keen photographer and is believed to have taken the photographs of the family and in the grounds of 'Medlow'. Norma Catherine Bull (7 September 1906 – September 1980) was an Australian painter, printmaker and etcher best known for the paintings and sketches she made in Britain during World War II. Norma was the daughter of Richard Joseph Bull (1874-1927) and Catherine Grace Perrier (1884-1972). Her father was the Director of Bacteriology at Melbourne University. Richard and Catherine had 2 children. Norma was born in Hawthorn in 1906 and her brother Ronald Richard was born in Surrey Hills in 1912, where in 1911 Richard bought a property at 42 Warrigal Road, Surrey Hills developed by Colonel William Cairncross, known as ‘Willcyrus’ and renamed ‘Medlow’ by the Bulls. As a child, Norma was a high achiever both intellectually and artistically. She was educated at Fintona, where she matriculated as Dux of the School and winner of an exhibition in French. She won a scholarship to attend the University of Melbourne where she studied French, Zoology, Philosophy, English and History, leading to a Bachelor of Arts in 1929. Following this she studied painting and drawing at the National Gallery Art School for seven years. Whilst most of the students of the 1930s were inspired by Modernism, Norma followed more traditional styles and became known for her etchings and realistic depiction of urban scenes. Her work was strongly influenced by the conservative nature of the National Gallery Art School under Bernard Hall, and she remained a traditionalist all her life. In 1938, she was awarded the Sir John Longstaff Scholarship in Fine Art. This enabled her to travel to England to study at the Royal Academy in London. She arrived in April 1939 and after the outbreak of war, she worked as a volunteer at a First Aid Clearing Station and applied to become a war artist. In 1941, she was given a sketching permit by the War Artists Advisory Committee to record bomb damage in the Bristol area. In 1947, an exhibition of her 205 wartime works entitled “Two Hemispheres”, opened at Australia House in London. Many were acquired for major collections in England including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Imperial War Museum and the Royal Collection. The “Two Hemispheres” exhibition toured Australia in 1948 and for over twelve months she followed Wirth’s Circus around the country, painting aspects of circus life. From then on she lived at Medlow’, From 1960 she was secretary of the Fellowship of Australian Artists. She was a finalist in the Archibald Prize on 2 occasions and is remembered through a biennial Art Prize, ‘The Norma Bull Portraiture Scholarship’ which is administered by The Victorian Artist’s Society. She continued to paint landscapes and seascapes in her traditionalist style. She had holiday homes at Anglesea and Bright. After she died in September 1980, 31 of her works were bequeathed to Bright Art Gallery.

Physical description

A black and white photograph of a lady holding a sun umbrella and sitting in a window frame.