My Day of Days: Exhibition Guide

February the 14th is St Valentine’s Day – when love, romance, friendship and affection are celebrated.

For Joan Lindsay it meant family, life transitions, love and loss; it formed a pattern that echoed across time. She chronicled this repetition in personal and creative ways and called it her ‘day of days.’

This installation presents a series of connections across time to show how Joan Lindsay experienced a spreading pattern of meaning and how St Valentine’s Day became a date of personal significance.

Ephemera, objects and a private collection of Valentine’s Day cards form the basis of Joan’s material memory, and her story is told through the place she loved – Mulberry Hill.

‘Miranda used to say that everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place.’

Irma to Michael, Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1967

Repeat Pattern

'At Appleyard College, out of a clear sky, from the moment the first rays of light had fired the dahlias on the morning of Saint Valentine’s Day, and the boarders, waking early, had begun the innocent interchange of cards and favours, the pattern had begun to form.' - Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1967

Joan Lindsay’s written work reflected her interest in repetition and pattern, a metaphysical perspective that informed both her memoirs and fiction.  

The word ‘pattern’ is used ‘repeatedly’ in her novel Picnic at Hanging Rock. We might instead call this idea synchronicity. As with the repetition of the date of St Valentine’s Day, Lindsay also recognised the echo of events that could reoccur at significant places. 

For Joan, the meaning of St Valentine’s Day ‘rippled’ out, starting in her childhood, when her family gathered to explore a collection of old St Valentine’s Day cards.  

As a child, Joan thought a ’mysterious man …  appeared … and sent us these cards.’ The original album is long gone, but the cards have survived, pasted into the album on display.   

In an article written anonymously for The Home magazine and published in February 1930, Joan described the 20th century as ‘hardheaded’, she claimed the modern world found St Valentine’s Day too nostalgic, sentimental and old fashioned – ‘the very name gives forth the faintly exciting and wistful aroma of old potpourri.’ Receiving an anonymous card sent from an unknown post box was described as a ‘delicious mystery.’  

The article includes many personal reminiscences. One recounts the ‘misery of siting down to play with the “Valentine Book” and finding that some officious grown-up had gummed down the flowers and the dear little wreaths that you could put your finger through, fearing destruction by my childish hands.’   

The day also featured in her schoolgirl poems and other juvenilia 

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Joan’s friend – Philip Adams – claimed that it was on St Valentine’s Day that Joan met her future husband Daryl Lindsay, but this is not substantiated by Joan’s memoirs. Although, it was the date the couple married in 1922.  

The date continued to spread its pattern – its repeat.   

In her memoir Joan states that it is the only personal date she remembered, and she opens her famous novel on this day in 1900.  

Finally, as screenwriter Cliff Green recalls  ‘Peter Weir is quite a superstitious film director and I believe we may have begun filming on St Valentine’s Day.’ 

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St Valentine's Day

'He’s a darling – sends people gorgeous cards with tinsel and real lace.' - Irma to Mr Hussey, Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1967

During the nineteenth century St Valentine’s Day became a social craze.  

In England, from the 1820s onwards, the giving of sometimes strange and highly decorated greeting cards reached fever pitch. Not only were cards printed and sold at most stationers – and imported to Australia – but advice manuals were published to help givers compose the perfect message.   

Some cards were hand embellished with collaged and applied decoration, others hand inscribed with personal messages or drawings.  

Highly popular and sentimental, the increased manufacture and distribution of printed material led to the overwhelming popularity of Valentines. Publishers vied with each other to produce the most impressive and eye-catching designs. 

Today the exchange of cards is limited to lovers. But this was not always the case.  

With her typical humour Joan Lindsay describes

‘Children as well as grown-ups, posted off their anonymousofferings of paper lace and tinsel …  

In the matter of dispatching a Valentine, neither age nor sex was of account – the full-blown fairy exclaiming in silver letters “I love you forever” might be from Aunt Letitia or Cousin Adolphus, or even brother Harry, though you always hoped for the best.  

Young and old joined in the fun, and Grandmamma herself was not above enjoying the card that bore the inscription “You are sweet sixteen to me.” -(The Passing of Saint Valentine, 1930)

Many of the cards in Joan’s album are mass produced, some are highly collectible and manufactured by well know printers such as Marcus Ward, who commissioned artists like Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway to create illustrations in the popular aesthetic movement style.  

Many are three-dimensional, with pop-ups, flaps and moving parts.  Many publishers also printed paper scraps and decals that were collaged together by the sender into an unique and personal card. These paper scraps included paper lace, decals of hearts, cupids, flowers, people, and birds, motifs often symbolising Spring and rebirth.     

‘Miranda as usual had a drawer of her wardrobe filled with lace-trimmed pledges of affection, although Baby Jonnie’s home-grown cupid and row of pencilled kisses, addressed from Queensland in her father’s large loving hand, held pride of place on the marble mantelpiece.”Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1967 

St Valentine is the Patron Saint of affianced and engaged couples, bee keepers, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, and young people. 

In ancient Rome the day was celebrated as Lupercalia, honouring the god Pan or Faunus, when rituals involving the sacrifice of goats were performed. 

‘The Headmistress was probably the only person at the College who received no cards. It was well known that Mrs Appleyard disapproved of Saint Valentine and his ridiculous greetings that cluttered up the College mantelpieces right up to Easter …’Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1967   


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Oil Painting 
‘Joan’s Bunch’ 
Artist Daryl Lindsay 
1960 c. 
Oil on board  

Joan was an avid gardener, enjoying the delights of the flowers and vegetables in her care. 

Joan Lindsay studied art at the National Gallery of Victoria School and although she continued to paint throughout her life, writing became her main creative pursuit.   

She first saw Daryl Lindsay while studying at art school, glimpsing him in the hall while she was in class. They later met at a tea given by a mutual friend.  

This is how she described her first glimpse of Daryl

‘[a]s he passed the open door of our classroom, the student next to me remarked – “that’s Daryl Lindsay – just come back from London with some war drawings.” I LIKE THE LOOK OF Daryl Lindsay and made up my mind on the spot that someday – somehow – I would meet him’ – (Catalyst Papers – November 11 1968 Cat Under a Hot Tin Roof)

Their relationship was complex, as most long marriages are. With so many years together the couple’s creativity, sense of purpose and commitment to the arts held them together. 

Joan was unconventional, a bohemian and was progressive in her views on sex and sexuality. 

We have no written evidence of other love relationships, but Joan and Maie Casey were very close. It is unknown if their relationship was sexual, many believed it was. 

Joan may have wanted to keep her relationships secret not out of prudery – but to allow for mystery about her life, she wrote ‘[w]hy do we have to understand everything? There are mysterious things that will never have a proper, factual explanation.’  

As artist Rick Amor stated – ‘Joan was “strangely sexy” – happy within herself. Very popular when she was young. 

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Menu Card and Watercolour  
Artist Daryl Lindsay 

Card celebrating the Lindsays’ 11th wedding anniversary aboard the SS Mosel on their way to Europe aboard a German cargo ship.  


Daryl Lindsay 

This poem was written by Daryl Lindsay for Joan on the occasion of their 3rd wedding anniversary – 1925. This was the year the couple moved to Mulberry Hill. In Northern English and Scottish dialect, the word Selly means rare or a marvel.   


Necklace worn by Joan Lindsay 
Twentieth Century 
Glass, metal  

Joan Lindsay was often photographed wearing this necklace, she wore it to the launch of her book Picnic at Hanging Rock in 1967.  

You can see Joan wearing it in the writing studio where a filmed interview is playing.   


Card Album 
Mixed Media 
St Valentine’s Day Cards 19th Century and early 20th century 
Album mid 20th Century  

Movie memorabilia post 1975   

This album is not the Weigall family’s original scrapbook but a mid-twentieth century album into which Joan Lindsay pasted the original card collection.    

The album contains 90 printed and decorated St Valentine’s Day cards. The cards are composed of chromolithographic scraps, ribbons, pipe cleaners, lace, embossed and die-cut paper, plant material, and pop-up and movable components.  

Joan Lindsay’s fame as an author culminated with the publication of Picnic at Hanging Rock, set on St. Valentine’s Day in 1900. Written in only four weeks here at Mulberry Hill, it was first published in 1967. The novel was made into an iconic Australian film in 1975, directed by Peter Weir. Many cards in Joan’s collection were used as props in the film. Artist Martin Sharp was employed as creative consultant and he and Joan became friends, but later fell out over the damage sustained to her precious collection during filming.   

Conservation of the album was generously funded by The Copland Foundation. 


1975 c. 
Glass, metal, plastic 


Valentine’s Day Card  
‘Miranda’s card’ 
Paper and card 
1860 – 1870 
Made in England?  

This card was used in the film Picnic at Hanging Rock and is possibly one of the damaged cards that distressed Joan Lindsay at the time. The card is inscribed on the inside fold in biro ‘To Miranda.’  The swan is a leitmotif in both the book and the film, personifying the character, Miranda.   

A Paris green – arsenic green – printed and embossed card, it features a gilded paper lace frame with a swan in centre. It is a mass-produced card and does not appear to have had any personal handmade embellishments, although the assembly of the card was by hand.  

It is unknown why this card did not make it into the album, perhaps because it also has an accompanying envelope. 


Paper and card 
1860 – 1870 
Made in England?  

In her 1930 article for The Home magazine Joan Lindsay wrote: 

‘My grandmother, who, as a young woman, received her share of the pretty things, tells me that a Valentine was purchased with its own very special envelope, usually scented, and exotic as to colour.’ 


Pill Box 
1970 c. 
Ceramic, metal
Gift to Joan Lindsay from Pat Lovell  

Patricia (Pat) Lovell (1929 – 2013) was the producer of the film Picnic at Hanging Rock, buying the rights when she recognised the potential of the narrative. Early in her career she had been Miss Pat on the Mr Squiggle and Friends show for the ABC.  

Pat Lovell sent Joan Lindsay a present each Valentine’s Day. 


Valentine’s Day Card used as a Birthday Card 
Paper and card 

Zoe Amor is artist Rick Amor’s youngest child. She was born when the family lived at Mulberry Hill. Joan had a unique and special relationship with Rick Amor’s children. This card was purchased for Zoe and Joan had written ‘for Zoe Amor’s birthday 1983’ on the outside of the paper bag it was kept in.  Zoe was 9 in 1983. Joan died the following year.  

Zoe Amor is an artist based in Central Victoria.  


Valentine’s Day Card used as a Christmas Card 
Paper and card 
Nineteenth Century  

Inscribed on the inside flap, this card was also never gifted to Zoe Amor. 

‘I write sitting on the floor, surrounded by sheets of paper in a sort of fairy ring. It’s bliss.’

Joan Lindsay