10
Apr
11

Exhibition: ‘An Edwardian Summer: Sydney & beyond through the lens of Arthur Wigram Allen’ at the Museum of Sydney

Exhibition dates: 11th December 2010 –  25th April 2011

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Many thankx to the Museum of Sydney for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images © Arthur Wigram Allan, courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.

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Arthur Wigram Allen
We left Medlow at 1015am & drove through Blackheath & Mt Victoria to Bathurst
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Arthur Wigram Allen
AWA & Boyce at lunch
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Arthur Wigram Allen
Kitty and Katha working at the drawn work
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Arthur Wigram Allen
11 November 1917 Mrs Frank Osborne and Miss Catterall wait in the back of one of Arthur Allens Detroit Electric broughams
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An Edwardian Summer, a new book and an exhibition opening 11th December 2010 at the Museum of Sydney showcases for the first time an extraordinary collection of photographs that capture Sydney at the turn of the century at one of the most rapidly changing times in Australia’s history.

A talented amateur photographer, lawyer and Sydney identity Arthur Wigram Allen was fascinated by the social and technological changes that occurred during his lifetime, 1862 – 1941. Allen created 51 albums now held by the State Library of NSW.

In 1885 after the sudden death of his father and uncle and at the age of just 23, Allen was thrust into the role of heading up the family law firm founded by his grandfather George Allen, known internationally today as Allens Arthur Robinson. While Allen’s photographs span 1890 – 1934, the book and exhibition concentrate on the Edwardian years, 1890s – 1915, a brief often overlooked but important period in Australia’s history that heralded a new century of significant inventions and social changes, including powered flight, the rise of the motorcar and a new federated Australia.

Through Allen’s lens, we see the first mixed bathing on Sydney beaches, sporting events, pageants and processions, dramatic shipwrecks, the latest fashions as well as intimate family events such as motoring and harbour excursions and bush picnics. Meticulously captioned by Allen, his exquisitely personal and beautiful photographs capture a time of optimism and new ideas as Sydney emerged from the strict moral codes of the Victorian era.

Both the book and exhibition feature art works from the era by Australian artists including Arthur Streeton, Rupert Bunny, Grace Cossington Smith and Theodore Penleigh Boyd. The exhibition will also showcase items from the Historic Houses Trust collection and from the Powerhouse Museum, including examples of Edwardian fashion, children’s dress up costumes, jewellery and accessories and furniture.”

Text from the Sydney Museum website

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Arthur Wigram Allen
Joyce preparing to dive 15 January 1905
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Arthur Wigram Allen
Another who is not quite so sure
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Museum of Sydney
cnr Bridge & Phillip Streets, Sydney

Opening hours:
Open daily 9.30am – 5pm

Historic Houses Trust Museum of Sydney website

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1 Response to “Exhibition: ‘An Edwardian Summer: Sydney & beyond through the lens of Arthur Wigram Allen’ at the Museum of Sydney”


  1. 1 john porter
    April 13, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I was impressed by the way M.O.S. staff have presented this material from a bygone era. The photographer was, in my opinion, ahead of his time. He obviously had the finance to further his hobby, and too, I’m sure by the quality of the photos, had some of the best equipment available to him at that time. Nonetheless, his talent as a photographer comes out in his camera angles, and composition. His exposures (particularly at the beach, where high contrast would have been a problem) were spot on. I’m sure that the photos have been “worked on” by exhibition presenters to get the best from the available material, but one cannot take credit from a man who painstakingly left a record of life in his time. Thanks, M.O.S. for a great and rewarding exhibition.


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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