Posts Tagged ‘Australian vernacular photography

30
Mar
20

Photographs: ‘Australia 1946-1947’ Part 2 March 2020

March 2020

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Flinders Street railway station)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Flinders Street railway station)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

Another mountain of work scanning and cleaning 50 of these 2 1/4″ square (6 x 6 cm) medium format black and white negatives which come from the collection of my friend Nick Henderson. In Part 2 of the posting the family travel to Melbourne, Colac and Tasmania. The photographs of postwar Melbourne are fascinating. There are also pictures of mining works, a speedcar racer, picnic, pub, dogs, ballerinas, actors, children and some stunning, Frank Hurley-esque photographs of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The photographs seem as though from another world. The Pacific Highway in North Sydney is almost deserted of traffic. A fascinating set of four photographs are Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales. In the first photograph from a distance we observe that a hay truck has lost its load, possibly after rounding the corner from left at too fast a speed, the intersection marked in the road by a small metal bollard. Small children inspect the underside of the truck while a boy on a bike rides to join them. What strikes one is the openness of the scene, the lack of other cars, and the spareness of the landscape, with only the “milk bar” with the Peters ice cream sign showing any sign of commerce. In the second image the photographer has moved around to the front side of the truck which tilts at a crazy angle. Two forty-gallon oil drums, possibly from the truck, have been placed upright on the road while bales of hay little the bitumen. In the background a petrol station advertises PLUME, Mobiloil, and Atlantic tyres(?) and on the right we can make out the Albion Park Hotel and the intersection around which the truck came.

In the third image which again shows the underside of the truck men have joined the scene, talking to presumably the shirtless truck driver in peaked cap, sheepishly standing among the twisted axles and staring at the camera. To the left two shoeless boys observe the scene. In the last photograph of the front of the truck we see kids sitting on the hay bails posing for the camera, while at far right the shirtless truck driver may be in conversation with others. What a glorious sequence of Walker Evans type social documentary photography… a brief context, an accident, a shooting star in the timeline of the galaxy.

My two favourite photographs in the posting: the almost solarised image of the Convict-built church at Port Arthur convict colony ruins; but more especially Number 42 tram going to Mont Albert. This photograph should become a classic in the annals of Australian photography. In one dynamic image the photographer has captured the hustle and bustle of postwar Melbourne – the women striding purposefully towards us, the Silver Top taxi cresting the rise at speed, the number 42 tram to Mont Albert kicking up dust from the tracks, the shadows, the gothic buildings, the towers behind and the vanishing point. A superlative image.

Hopefully there will be part 3 of this series when I get chance to scan some more negatives. In the meantime you can view Part 1 and these images. Enjoy!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Nick Henderson for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. All photographs collection of Nick Henderson. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Y.M.C.A, City Road, South Melbourne)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Y.M.C.A, City Road, South Melbourne)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Collins Street, Melbourne)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Collins Street, Melbourne looking west from just above the Swanston Street intersection, Town Hall on the right, and then the Manchester Unity building across Swanston Street, probably taken from in front of the Regent Theatre)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Looking at Flinders Street railway station on Elizabeth Street, Melbourne)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Looking at Flinders Street railway station on Elizabeth Street, Melbourne)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Centreway Building on Collins Street, 259-263 Collins Street)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Centreway Building on Collins Street, 259-263 Collins Street)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Melbourne street)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Melbourne street)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (A. C. Goode House at 389-399 Collins)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (A. C. Goode House at 389-399 Collins) (the Gothic building at right)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Russell Street taken from near Collins Street)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Russell Street taken from near Collins Street)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

Russell Street with police radio tower viewed from Collins street. American 1930’s car’s that where popular then, Dodge, Chevy, Lincoln & Fords! Yellow cab at left, and the cars are facing the same way both sides of the road. The Holden Motor Company built Buick, Chevy & Pontiac from “CKD” kits from the USA. Parking in the middle of the road (so we are not seeing the other side of the road).

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Exhibition Street, looking from Collins Street, down past Flinders Lane)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Exhibition Street, looking from Collins Street, down past Flinders Lane)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Collins Street looking up towards Old Treasury Building)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Collins Street looking up towards Old Treasury Building)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Number 42 tram going to Mont Albert)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Number 42 tram going to Mont Albert)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

Photograph taken where – Collins and Swanston Street? The lady is walking towards or just beyond the Melbourne Town Hall, the tram is on the other side of the road going the opposite way towards Mont Albert. In the centre background is the APA Tower and in front of it is the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co (MLC) building. In the far distance is the Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace. Silver Top Pontiac Taxi (1937) slippery leather seats! Front bench seats with full length grab bar too hold on when cornering! (centre of image).

Many thankx to James Nolen for help identifying this image.

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne looking from Flinders Street Railway Station)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne looking from Flinders Street railway station)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Princes Bridge, Melbourne on the Yarra River with Flinders Street Railway Station to the right)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Princes Bridge, Melbourne on the Yarra River with Flinders Street railway station to the right)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Seagulls, rowing sheds on the Yarra River, Melbourne)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Seagulls, rowing sheds on the Yarra River, Melbourne)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Bill Edwards speedcar, Victoria)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Bill Edwards speedcar, Victoria)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Bill Edwards speedcar, Victoria)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Bill Edwards speedcar, Victoria)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Union Club Hotel, Colac)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Union Club Hotel, Colac)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

Union Club Hotel, Colac 2010

 

Union Club Hotel, Colac
2010
Wikimedia Commons
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Picnic, family and car)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Picnic, family and car)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Two women and two girls)' 1946-47z

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Two women and two girls)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Girl)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Girl)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Girl)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Girl)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Two lads and two children)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Two lads and two children)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Three dogs)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Three dogs)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Port Arthur ruins, Tasmania)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Port Arthur convict colony ruins, Tasmania)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Port Arthur convict colony ruins, Tasmania)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Port Arthur convict colony ruins, Tasmania)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Port Arthur convict colony ruins, Tasmania)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Port Arthur convict colony ruins, Tasmania)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Convict-built church at Port Arthur convict colony ruins, Tasmania)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Convict-built church at Port Arthur convict colony ruins, Tasmania)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Pirates Bay Lookout, Tasmania)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Pirates Bay Lookout, Tasmania)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

One of the Tasman Peninsula’s finest coastal lookouts is actually on the Forestier Peninsula, high on the hillsides above the Tesselated Pavement. Pirates Bay Lookout gives panoramic views down the east coast of Tasmania Peninsula and overs spectacular vistas towards Cape Hauy and Cape Pillar, which are both visible on a clear day. The lookout is on Pirates Bay Drive, the turnoff to the left off Tasman Highway being around 2 km before reaching Eaglehawk Neck when approaching from Dunalley. The lookout can also be accessed from Eaglehawk Neck. Simply take the Scenic drive past the Lufra Hotel.

Text from the Our Tasmania website [Online] Cited 29/03/2020

 

 

Pirates Bay Lookout, Tasmania 2009

 

Pirates Bay Lookout, Tasmania
2009
Wikimedia Commons
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Men and shark)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Men and shark) (location unknown)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Mining landscape)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Mining landscape) (location unknown)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Mining landscape)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Mining landscape) (location unknown)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Mining landscape)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Mining landscape) (location unknown)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Three dogs)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Three dogs)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Two dogs)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Two dogs)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Smiling girl with pigtails)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Smiling girl with pigtails)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Two ballerinas)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Two ballerinas)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Man and ballerina)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Man and ballerina)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Women in gown)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Women in gown)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Three girls)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Three girls)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Two women, a man and a dog)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Two women, a man and a dog)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Road accident, hay truck, Albion Park, New South Wales)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Bridgeview Motors, 267 Pacific Highway, North Sydney with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Bridgeview Motors, 267 Pacific Highway, North Sydney with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Lavender street, Lavender Bay looking towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Lavender street, Lavender Bay looking towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Dawes Point ferry, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge looking to Fort Denison)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Dawes Point ferry, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge looking to Fort Denison)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Sydney Harbour Bridge, south looking north showing the North Sydney Olympic Pool in the background left)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Sydney Harbour Bridge, south looking north showing the North Sydney Olympic Pool in the background left)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

The North Sydney Olympic Pool is a swimming and exercise complex located adjacent to Sydney Harbour at Milsons Point in North Sydney between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. Designed by architects Rudder & Grout in the Inter-War Free Classical style with art deco-style decorations, the Olympic-sized outdoor pool was built on part of the Dorman Long workshops site following the completion of the Harbour Bridge. The pool opened 4 April 1936 and hosted the swimming and diving events for the 1938 Empire Games.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Sydney Harbour Bridge, north looking south showing DC current power station stack to the left)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Sydney Harbour Bridge, north looking south showing DC current power station stack to the left)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, north looking south showing DC current power station stack to the left)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, north looking south showing DC current power station stack to the left)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

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01
Mar
20

Photographs: ‘Australia 1946-1947’ Part 1 March 2020

March 2020

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (girl on porch)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (girl on porch)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

One of the great joys about compiling this archive is the ability to rescue unloved and unknown images. To give them a voice in the contemporary world.

These 2 1/4″ square (6 x 6 cm) medium format black and white negatives come from the collection of my friend Nick Henderson. There is no marking on any of the negatives, leading me to believe that the film numbers were on the backing paper of the 120 film roll. The negatives are housed in paper packets adorned with a logo and words ‘APS Developing and Printing Service’ – perhaps Australian Photographic Services? Each packet contains basic title information for some of the photographs. Looking at the photographs and their perspective on the world, it would seem that the camera is a waist view camera, in other words the photographer was looking down into the viewfinder, the camera not held at eye level. The camera could possibly have been a Voigtländer or similar camera (see below). The quality of the negatives is reasonable, with some fall off in terms of sharpness occurring at the edge of the image. The photographs can be dated to 1946-1947 due to the February 1947 expiry Victorian registration label on the Chevrolet (thank you Simon Barnfield for spotting this!), are taken by an unknown photographer (probably male)… photographs of life in Sydney, his family and their travels around Australia. This is the first tranche of photographs with roughly the same number to come in the second part of the posting.

What makes these photographs particularly interesting is:

  1. the breadth of subject matter taken just after the Second World War and the fact that they are medium format
  2. the relaxed nature and beauty of the photographs of the children, and the light!
  3. the unknown images of places such as Bondi Beach and historical monuments, such as that of the forlorn The Dog on the Tuckerbox
  4. the photographs of the motor sport activity of hillclimbing, unfortunately no place known but its has been suggested it could be the 90-years-old Maldon hill climb at Mt Tarrengower because of the box-ironbark (and the fact that there are photographs of Maldon in the collection).

.
Variously we have country towns, theatrical groups, sailing, boating, churches, Sydney ferries, a trip to Maldon in Victoria for the Maldon Show, family picnics, cars and caravans, houses and horse riding, churches and children, and the oh so cute dogs in their own car boxes. So Australian. The photographs really give an extensive insight into suburban life in Australia just after the privations of the Second World War… and the photographer had a good eye. That is what is most important – that they knew how to take a good photograph.

Talking to my friend James McArdle who writes the oh so excellent On this Date in Photography website (essential reading!), he was unaware of the time it takes to prepare images for these postings. It has literally taken me hours and hours of hard work to scan these negatives and then digitally clean and balance them. All to give them a new lease of life in the world, to preserve their captured memories and histories. I hope you can appreciate all the hard work and admire the images I have revealed.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Nick Henderson for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. All photographs collection of Nick Henderson. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

APS (Australian Photographic Services?) Developing and Printing Service 'Film packets and negatives' 1946-47

APS (Australian Photographic Services?) Developing and Printing Service 'Film packets and negatives' 1946-47

 

APS (Australian Photographic Services?) Developing and Printing Service
Film packets and negatives
1946-47
Negatives: 2 1/4″ square (6 x 6 cm)
Packet (closed): 3 7/8 x 3 1/4″ (10 cm x 8 cm)
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Voigtländer Brillant 1930s

 

Voigtländer Billiant
1930s
Photograph by Rama, Wikimedia Commons, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr

 

 

The Voigtländer Brillant is a range of pseudo-TLR cameras, and later true TLR cameras, taking 6 × 6 cm exposures on 120 film, made by Voigtländer from 1932. Famed Hungarian-Dutch photographer Eva Besnyö used a Brillant for her early work.

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Circular Quay, Sydney)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Circular Quay, Sydney)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Karrabee ferry, Sydney, leaving High St Wharf, Kurraba in the background)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Karrabee ferry, Sydney, leaving High St Wharf, Kurraba in the background)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

Karingal and Karrabee ferry

Karingal and Karrabee were built by Morrison & Sinclair, Balmain for Sydney Ferries Limited, being launched in 1913. They were the smallest of the round-ended K-class Sydney ferries, and could carry 608 and 653 passengers respectively.

They were near identical sister ferries operated by Sydney Ferries Limited and its NSW State Government operated successors on Sydney Harbour from 1913 until 1984. Wooden ferries built at the time of Sydney Ferries’ rapid early twentieth century, they were the smallest of the round-end “K-class ferries”.

The ferries were built as coal-fired steamer and were converted to diesel in the 1930s – the first Sydney Harbour ferries to be so converted. Unlike many early twentieth century Sydney Ferries, they survived the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 1930s, and the State Government takeover in 1951.

Karrabee sank at Circular Quay after taking on water during the Great Ferry Race in 1984 – an incident that received extensive media coverage – and did not return to service. Karingal, and the other three remaining old wooden ferries, were taken out of service shortly after Karrabee’s sinking. In service for 71 years, they were among the longest-serving ferries on Sydney Harbour.

“Karingal” and “Karrabee” are Australian Aboriginal words meaning ‘happy home’ and ‘cockatoo’ respectively.

Text from the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 12/12/2019

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Bondi Beach, Sydney)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Bondi Beach, Sydney)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Bondi Beach, Sydney)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Bondi Beach, Sydney)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Bondi Beach, Sydney)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Bondi Beach, Sydney)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (The Dog on the Tuckerbox)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (The Dog on the Tuckerbox)
Gundagai, 1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (The Dog on the Tuckerbox)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (The Dog on the Tuckerbox)
Gundagai, 1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

The Dog on the Tuckerbox

The Dog on the Tuckerbox is an Australian historical monument and tourist attraction, located at Snake Gully, approximately five miles (eight kilometres) from Gundagai, New South Wales as described in the song of the same name.

The inspiration for the statue has been traced to a doggerel poem, “Bullocky Bill”, published anonymously by “Bowyang Yorke” in 1857 (other references have 1880 in the Gundagai Times, however confirmation of either is hard to find), which humorously describes a series of misfortunes faced by a bullock driver, culminating in his dog either sitting on or spoiling the food in his tucker-box (an Australian colloquialism for a box that holds food, similar to a lunchbox, but larger). …

A dog monument was first erected at a site nine miles from Gundagai in 1926. Gundagai stonemason Frank Rusconi suggested a memorial using the legend of the Dog on the Tuckerbox in 1928; and in 1932 the proposal was taken up by the community…

The Back to Gundagai Committee chose the Five Mile camping site rather than the Nine Mile Peg as a location for the monument on the basis that it was more convenient to the Hume Highway and closer to the town, thereby more beneficial to tourism.

A nationwide competition was held to obtain the most suitable inscription for the monument. The chosen inscription on the base of the monument was written by Brian Fitzpatrick of Sydney. The inscription says:

“Earth’s self upholds this monument
To conquerors who won her when
Wooing was dangerous, and now
Are gathered unto her again.”

The dog section of the monument was modelled by Rusconi and cast at ‘Oliver’s Foundry’ in Sydney. Rusconi also sculpted its base.

The Dog on the Tuckerbox monument was erected in 1932 as part of ‘Back to Gundagai’ week, and a large crowd “gathered to her again” to witness the unveiling by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons on 28 November 1932. It was planned to donate money placed in the wishing well at the base of the monument to the Gundagai District Hospital. A souvenir shop was also opened nearby. Copyright on the monument was vested in the Gundagai Hospital, who for many years received a useful income from receipt of royalties from firms using the iconic image.

Text from the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 12/12/2019

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)' (detail) 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria) (detail)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

Unknown location, possibly the 90-years-old Maldon hill climb at Mt Tarrengower because of the box-ironbark (and the fact that there are photographs of Maldon in the collection).

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)' (detail) 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria) (detail)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria)' (detail) 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (hillclimb, possibly at Maldon, Victoria) (detail)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (boat)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (boat)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (boat at sea)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (boat at sea)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (child on porch)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (child on porch)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (boy outside house)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (boy outside house)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (boy smiling)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (boy smiling)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (boy and girl smiling)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (boy and girl smiling)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (child on lawn)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (child on lawn)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (child and chairs)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (child and chairs)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (man and woman)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (man and woman)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (house)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (house)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (boy on horse)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (boy on horse)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (dog and saucepan)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (dog and saucepan)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (1932 Chevrolet)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (1932 Chevrolet)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (1932 Chevrolet and caravan)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Chevrolet and caravan)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (1932 Chevrolet and dogs)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (1932 Chevrolet and dogs)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

The photographs can be dated to 1946-47 due to the February 1947 expiry Victorian registration label on the Chevrolet. Thank you to Simon Barnfield for spotting this.

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (1932 Chevrolet and caravan)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Chevrolet and caravan)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Man and car)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (man and car)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (family picnic)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (family picnic)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Man and car)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (man and car)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (house on hill)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (house on hill)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (room interior)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (room interior)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Future Miss Maldons, Maldon Show, Maldon, Victoria, with Maldon Timber & Hardware at 28 Main Street in the background)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Future Miss Maldons, Maldon Show, Maldon, Victoria, with Maldon Timber & Hardware at 28 Main Street in the background)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Where are they now, so many ghosts with flowers in their hair.

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Scottish band, Maldon Show, Maldon, Victoria)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Scottish band, Maldon Show, Maldon, Victoria)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (church)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (church)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (church)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (church)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (group of actors)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (group of actors)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (actor and ballerina)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (actor and ballerina)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (actor)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (actor)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (band performances)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (band performances)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Untitled (Bilsons, country town)' 1946-47

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Untitled (Bilsons, country town)
1946-47
Medium format negative
Collection of Nicholas Henderson

 

 

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24
May
14

Review: ‘The Rennie Ellis Show’ at Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 3rd April – 8th June 2014

 

We Are Family

This is FAB, one of the best experiences I have had this year at an exhibition in Melbourne. You know you are having a good time when you laugh out loud at so many photographs, sharing the experience of the artist as though you had been there. As indeed I had, for in many cases the clubs pictured in Rennie Ellis’ photographs are the ones I went to.

I remember: Wednesday nights at Inflation in the late 80s, where to satisfy licensing restrictions you had to be served a “meal” so that you could drink alcohol (Dining Out, Inflation, 1980 below). The famous Razor Club (1986 – 1992), based at the Light Car Club of Australia’s clubrooms on the corner of Queens Road and Roy Street, opposite the Albert Park Lake and golf course. “It was Melbourne’s version of Studio 54, the hedonistic, off-the-wall New York disco of the late ’70s – both places notoriously hard to get into but once inside a wonderland of celebrities, freaks, transvestites and fantastic music free from the tyranny of genre.” Once on a big party night the gang of us tried to get in but the queue was so long it was impossible – so I went down the side, climbed up the drain pipes past the ladies loo, and up to the first floor balcony where someone pulled me over – completely off my face, just to get my friends in. Zu Zu’s, Cadillac Bar, 397, Commerce Club, Tasty, Freakazoid, Dome, Baseline, Hardware Club, The Peel and so many parties you could poke a stick at – what a time we had!

There to capture it all – affectionately, non-judgementally – was Rennie Ellis. He wasn’t like Diane Arbus, who thrust her camera as an outsider at people, waiting for a reaction. He was always part of the action because he was part of the family. He was a humanist photographer in the true sense of the word, for he loved photographing human beings, their social relations and their habitats, whatever that might be – sunning, partying, boozing, smoking, picking up. He referred to himself as a “people perv.”

Ellis had an eloquently clumsy eye, and for the type of baroque photographs he took this is a great thing. No perfect framing, no perfect tension points within the image, no regular alignment of horizontals, verticals or diagonals – just instinctual images taken in a split second, with his own particular brand of humour embedded in them. And always with this slight eccentricity in his vision. Look at the image of Dancing People, Razor Club (1991, below) and notice the odd hand poking in at the left hand side and the attitude of the dancers, or Fully equipped, Albert Park Beach (c. 1981, below), with the angle of the three cigarettes, the drink and the bottle of sun tan lotion strapped to the hip – FIERCE!

But he was not averse to understanding the structure of his images either, as can be seen by my comparison between the tight, formal structure of Paul Strand’s The Family, Luzzara, Italy (1953, below) and the looser, more natural gathering in Ellis’ The Gang, Windsor (1976, below); or the influence of other artists on his work, for example Norman Lindsay in his My Bare Lady, The Ritz, St Kilda (1977, below). Ellis also liked to push and pull at the pictorial plane; he liked to use pairs of people; he was not afraid of out of focus elements in the foreground of his images; he used chiaroscuro; and his use of light is always excellent. Above all, there is a consistency to his vision that never falters – a concatenation of images that is his style?

This is not just nostalgia. These are bloody good images, and Ellis takes these insightful type of images over and over again – the excesses of hedonism, the influences of wealth, the see-and-be-seen syndrome, things erotic and bizarre and, most importantly, enduring friendships. He photographs what he sees with a love and affection for his subject matter. None of this “staged” vernacular photography that I recently featured in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This is the real deal. A friend said to me recently, “Ah, but you know, he never did in depth photo-essays like Mary Ellen Mark did of the circus, for example.” To which I have a one word reply: BULLSHIT. His whole oeuvre is a huge photo-essay on the human race, specifically the construction of Australian identity as evidenced in sections like portraits, gangs, sharpies, Aboriginals, Kings Cross, Social Documentary, Decadence, Graffiti, Life’s a Parade, Life’s a Beach etc…

When you look at his photography it would seem to me that his images dissolve the barriers between image/subject/viewer. It’s a strange phenomena to feel so connected to a person’s work. It’s the journey that he takes us on, that we went on too – not so much the destination but the rejoicing in this journey… of company, of environment, friends, places – the joy of being human. He was allowed entry into these public/private spaces because he earned our trust. He lived with the people, and they allowed him to take a bit of their life with him – as a photographic memory, to be retold and relived in the present, allowing us all to relive those times and places. It’s the love, trust, humour and anticipation of the journey that make Ellis’ images truly unique in the history of Australian photography.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

Many thankx to Manuela Furci, Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive and the Monash Gallery of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Ponch Hawkes. 'Rennie Ellis photographing at the Gay Liberation march, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 1973' 1973

 

Ponch Hawkes
Rennie Ellis photographing at the Gay Liberation march, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 1973
1973
Silver gelatin photograph
© Ponch Hawkes

 

In researching photographs for the upcoming exhibition Out of the closets, onto the streets: Gay Liberation photography 1971-73 I came across this photograph taken by Ponch Hawkes of the Gay Liberation march that was part of Gay Pride week in 1973. Ponch had never seen this image before until I scanned the negative. And there, front and centre as always, is Rennie Ellis capturing the action… What a special find and a wonderful photograph by Ponch!

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Dancing People, Razor Club' 1991

 

Rennie Ellis
Dancing People, Razor Club
1991
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
26.7 x 40.7 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Robyn Dean. 'Marcus dancing at an unknown club, Melbourne' c. 1991-92

 

Robyn Dean
Marcus dancing at an unknown club, Melbourne
c. 1991-92

 

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Dining Out, Inflation' 1980

 

Rennie Ellis
Dining Out, Inflation
1980
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
26.7 x 40.7 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Fitzroy extrovert' 1974

 

Rennie Ellis
Fitzroy extrovert
1974
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
40.5 x 50.8 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Dino Ferrari, Toorak Road' 1976

 

Rennie Ellis
Dino Ferrari, Toorak Road
1976
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
26.7 x 40.7 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Bon Scott and Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia' 1978

 

Rennie Ellis
Bon Scott and Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia
1978
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
26.7 x 40.7 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott (9 July 1946 – 19 February 1980) was a Scottish-born Australian rock musician, best known for being the lead singer and lyricist of Australian hard rock band AC/DC from 1974 until his death in 1980.

Angus McKinnon Young (born 31 March 1955) is a Scottish-born Australian guitarist best known as a co-founder, lead guitarist, and songwriter of the Australian hard rock band, AC/DC. Known for his energetic performances, schoolboy-uniform stage outfits, and popularisation of Chuck Berry’s duckwalk, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Young as the 24th greatest guitarist of all time.

AC/DC’s popularity grew throughout the 1970s, initially in Australia, and then internationally. Their 1979 album Highway to Hell reached the top twenty in the United States, and the band seemed on the verge of a commercial breakthrough. However, on 19 February 1980, Scott died after a night out in London. AC/DC briefly considered disbanding, but the group quickly recruited vocalist Brian Johnsonof the British glam rock band Geordie. AC/DC’s subsequent album, Back in Black, was released only five months later, and was a tribute to Scott. (Text from Wikipedia)

 

 

Rennie Ellis. 'At the Pub, Brisbane' 1982

 

Rennie Ellis
At the Pub, Brisbane
1982
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
26.7 x 40.7 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Rennie Ellis. 'The Gang, Windsor' 1976

 

Rennie Ellis
The Gang, Windsor
1976
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
26.7 x 40.7 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Paul Strand. 'The Family, Luzzara, Italy' 1953

 

Paul Strand
The Family, Luzzara, Italy
1953
Silver gelatin photograph

 

 

“The photographer Rennie Ellis (1940-2003) is a key figure in Australian visual culture. Ellis is best remembered for his effervescent observations of Australian life during the 1970s-90s, including his now iconic book Life is a beach. Although invariably inflected with his own personality and wit, the thousands of social documentary photographs taken by Ellis during this period now form an important historical record.

The Rennie Ellis Show highlights some of the defining images of Australian life from the 1970S and ’80S. This is the period of Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke; AC/DC and punk rock; cheap petrol and coconut oil; Hare Krishnas and Hookers and Deviant balls.

This exhibition of over 100 photographs provides a personal account of what Ellis termed ‘a great period of change’. Photographs explore the cultures and subcultures of the period, and provide a strong sense of a place that now seems worlds away, a world free of risk, of affordable inner city housing, of social protest, of disco and pub rock, of youth and exuberance.”

Text from the MGA website

 

Rennie Ellis. 'My son Josh learns to swim' 1972

 

Rennie Ellis
My son Josh learns to swim
1972
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
26.7 x 40.7 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Rennie Ellis. 'My Bare Lady, The Ritz, St Kilda' 1977

 

Rennie Ellis
My Bare Lady, The Ritz, St Kilda
1977
Digital C Type photograph
Fuji Crystal Archive print
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Norman Lindsay. 'The Olympians' Nd

 

Norman Lindsay
The Olympians
Nd
Oil on canvas
Collection of Hamilton Art Gallery

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Richmond fans, Grand Final, MCG' 1974

 

Rennie Ellis
Richmond fans, Grand Final, MCG
1974
Chromogenic print
40.5 x 50.8 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Interesting to note that Ellis must have been shooting both black and white and colour film during the VFL Grand Final of 1974. He must have had two cameras with him (this is more likely than swapping between films in the same 35mm camera) to shoot the photograph above in colour and the black and white image of Robbie McGhie (1974, below).

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Mr Muscleman, Albert Park Beach' c. 1986

 

Rennie Ellis
Mr Muscleman, Albert Park Beach
c. 1986
Chromogenic print
26.7 x 40.7 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Fully-equipped-Albert-Park-Beach-c.1981-WEB

 

Rennie Ellis
Fully equipped, Albert Park Beach
c. 1981
Digital C Type photograph
Fuji Crystal Archive print
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Don and Patrizia, St Kilda Beach' 1985

 

Rennie Ellis
Don and Patrizia, St Kilda Beach
1985
Chromogenic print
40.5 x 50.8 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Berlin Party, Inflation, Melbourne' 1980

 

Rennie Ellis
Berlin Party, Inflation, Melbourne
1980
Digital C Type photograph
Fuji Crystal Archive print
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Rennie Ellis book covers: 'Decade, 1970-1980' (left) and 'Decadent, 1980-2000' (right)

 

Rennie Ellis book covers: Decade: 1970-1980 (left) and Decadent: 1980-2000 (right)

 

Decade: 1970-1980 is a photography book showcasing Rennie Ellis’ (1940-2003) contribution to photography and social history. With an introduction by film maker and Rennie contemporary Paul Cox and an essay by academic Susan Van Wyk, Decade highlights Ellis as one of Australia’s most important chroniclers of the 1970s. The photographs, predominantly black and white, are drawn from a core selection originally made by Rennie from his own unpublished book, supplemented by other significant and iconic images from 1970 to 1980 drawn from the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive and the State Library of Victoria Rennie Ellis collection. Many of the photographs are accompanied by extended captions written by Rennie himself, published here for the first time. Decade explores the cultures and sub-cultures of the seventies: the political upheavals, alternative lifestyles and counter culture, the women’s movement, gay liberation, the new religions and cults, pop festivals, Vietnam and other protests, massage parlours, the disco scene, the blossoming of Australia’s film industry, the new sexual freedom, Aboriginal rights, street festivals, the new theatre, fashion, drugs and the emergence of a decadent and hedonistic society that would later characterise the 1980s.

Decadent: 1980-2000 is a photography book showcasing Rennie Ellis’ (1940-2003) contribution to photography and social history. It is a fascinating snapshot of the wild, opulent, sometimes tacky and always decadent 1980s in Australia by a true original. With an introduction by photographer and Rennie contemporary William Yang and an essay by photographer and art critic Robert McFarlane, Decadent highlights Ellis as one of Australia’s most important chroniclers of the 1980s. The photographs, both colour and black and white, are drawn from the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive and the State Library of Victoria Rennie Ellis collection. Decadent explores the rise of the hedonism that we now associate with the 1980s. Ellis’ boundary-pushing, racy and sometimes voyeuristic works capture a society that seems to be revelling in its abandonment of the politically charged 1970s documented in Decade.

.
About the Author

No other photographer has documented – in such depth – the life and times in Australia, throughout the 1970s until his death in 2003, with such insight into the human condition as Rennie Ellis. His non-judgmental approach was his ‘access-to-all-areas’ pass. Ellis used his camera as a key to open the doors to the social arenas of the rich and famous and to enter the underbelly of the nightclubs, bearing witness to the indulgences and excesses. In today’s post-Henson era, these captured moments offer an intimate access to an Australia tantalisingly, but sadly, now almost out of reach.

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Robert McGhie, Grand Final, MCG' 1974

 

Rennie Ellis
Robert McGhie, Grand Final, MCG
1974
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
50.8 x 40.5 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

Robert ‘Robbie’ McGhie is a former Australian rules football player who played in the VFL between 1969 and 1972 and again in 1979 for the Footscray Football Club, from 1973 to 1978 for the Richmond Football Club and in 1980 and 1981 for the South Melbourne Football Club. His height was 192 cm and he weighed 85.5 kg. He played 46 games for Footscray, 80 games for Richmond and 16 games for South Melbourne. He was a Richmond Premiership Player 1973, 1974 (the year this photograph by Rennie Ellis was taken at the Grand Final).

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Property of Hells Angels, Kings Cross' 1970-71

 

Rennie Ellis
Property of Hells Angels, Kings Cross
1970-71
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
50.8 x 40.5 cm
Courtesy of the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

 

invite-web-final-WEB

 

Invitation to The Rennie Ellis Show at the Monash Gallery of Art

 

 

Monash Gallery of Art
860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill
Victoria 3150 Australia
T: + 61 3 8544 0500

Opening hours:
Tue – Fri: 10am – 5pm
Sat – Sun: 12pm – 5pm
Mon/public holidays: closed

Monash Gallery of Art website

Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive

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11
May
14

Text / exhibition: ‘Australian vernacular photography’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Sydney

Exhibition dates: 8th February – 18th May 2014

 

Australian vernacular photography. Such a large subject. Such a small exhibition.

With only 27 photographs from various artists (18 of which are shown in this posting), this exhibition can only ever be seen as the runt of the litter. I would have thought such a large area of photographic investigation needed a more expansive exposition than is offered here. There are no photobook, photo booth, Aboriginal, anonymous, authorless, family, gay or marginalised cultural photographs / snapshots. There are no light leaks, blur, fingers obstructing lenses, double exposures – all examples of serendipity and happenstance which could enter into an aesthetic arena.

Vernacular photography1 can be defined as the “creation of photographs, usually by amateur or unknown photographers both professional and amateur, who take everyday life and common things as subjects… Examples of vernacular photographs include travel and vacation photos, family snapshots, photos of friends, class portraits, identification photographs, and photo-booth images. Vernacular photographs are types of accidental art, in that they often are unintentionally artistic.”2 ‘Found photography’ is the recovery of a lost, unclaimed, or discarded vernacular photograph or snapshot.

While all of the photographs in the exhibition are unique images, some are definitely not vernacular in their construction – they are planned and staged photographs, what I would call planned happenstance (after John Krumboltz’s theory of career development). A perfect example of this are the photographs by Sue Ford (Sue Pike, 1963, printed 1988, below), Anne Zahalka (The girls #2, Cronulla beach, 2007, below) and Fiona Hall (Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia, October 1975, below) which have an air of ceremonial seriousness that belies their classification as part of this exhibition. My favourites are the fantastic images by Glen Sloggett – witty, colourful, humorous with the photographer “acutely aware of the photographer and photograph’s role in pointedly constructing a narrative around Australian identity and history” – they are nevertheless self-deprecating enough that this does not impact on their innate “found” quality, as though the artist had just wandered along and captured the shot.

The route that the AGNSW has taken is similar to that of MoMA. Residing in the collection and shot by artists, these “vernacular” photographs are placed in a high art context. Their status as amateur or “authorless” photographs is undermined. This exhibit does not present vernacular photographs as just that. As the article on the One Street blog notes, what is being exhibited is as much about what has been collected by the AGNSW, its methodical and historicising classification, as it is about vernacular photographic form: chance, mistake and miscalculation. It is about creating a cliché from which to describe an ideal Australian identity, be it the beach, larrikinism, or the ANZAC / sporting “warrior”, and not about a true emotional resonance in the image that is created by, or come upon by, chance.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to the Art Gallery of New South Wales for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

1. “Vernacular photography,” on One Way Street blog 20th October 2007 [Online] Cited 11/05/2014

“What is vernacular photography? Too broad to be understood as a genre per se, it can encompass anonymous snapshots, industrial photography, scientific photography, “authorless” photography, advertising, smut, as well as work that might be perceived as “other” than any of this random list. It could be understood as an oppositional photography – outside technical or artistic histories, yet, especially with the snapshot, it could also be entirely conventionalized, a manifestation of visual banalities, or an image so enigmatic that its meaning or genesis is entirely obscured. It is mistakes & failures as much as it may not be. & how we understand the images may or may not be separate from their initial intents. Is this a category we are making up?
The idea of the vernacular in photography is also an indication of photography as a medium informing the everyday, prevalent, “naturalized.””

2. Szarkowski, John. “INTERVIEW: “Eyes Wide Open: Interview with John Szarkowski” (2006)” by Mark Durden, Art in America, May, 2006, cited in “Vernacular photography,” on Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 11/05/2014

 

Words and Photos: Geoffrey Batchen’s Writing About Vernacular Photography

“At first, I was simply interested in bringing attention to a diverse range of photographic objects and practices that had not been much written about. But I soon recognized that these objects represented a significant challenge to the predominant history of photography. This history, dominated by the values ​​and tropes of art history, was not well-equipped to talk about photographs that were openly commercial, hybrid and mundane. Ie: the history of photography ignores most types of photography. My interest, therefore, has become more methodological and theoretical, in an effort to establish new ways to think of photography that could address the medium as a whole. I suggest that any substantial inclusion of vernacular photographs into a general history of photography will require a total transformation of the character of that history…

I suggest that any inclusion of vernacular photography in the larger story, will require a complete transformation of the character of that story; it will require a new kind of history altogether. My writings may have encouraged this idea, but I am just one of many scholars who have been pursuing this goal. Indeed, I would say that this idea is now the norm. The next step is to look beyond this and engage other parts of the history of photography that have been similarly neglected. For example, there are many researchers at the moment that are examining the photographs produced outside Europe and the United States, such as China, Indonesia, and Africa…

Snapshots are complicated objects. They are unique to each maker and almost always completely generic. They happily adopt the visual economy that mediates most photographic practices: same but different. You might say that every snapshot is an authentic copy of a prescribed set of middle-class values and familiar pictorial clichés. That does not make them any less fascinating, especially for people who treasure them. But it does make them difficult to write about…

It is certainly possible to recognize the existence of regional practices of photography. I wrote, for example, about the making of fotoescultura in Mexico, and about a specific form of ambrotype in Japan. No doubt one could claim to see some regional aspects of snapshots made in the United States that distinguish them from ones made in Australia or, say, Indonesia. But the more challenging task is to talk about those things that can’t be seen. For example, snapshots made in Australia and China may look exactly the same to my eye, but it stands to reason that they don’t mean the same thing (after all, access to the camera for personal photos is a fairly recent phenomenon in China). We must learn how to write these kind of differences.”

Interview by LG. “Words and Photos: Geoffrey Batchen’s Writing About Vernacular Photography,” on the LesPHOTOGRAPHES.com website Nd (translated from the French) [Online] Cited 04/05/2014

 

Ed Douglas (United States of America, Australia 06 May 1943 - ) 'City-spaces #28, (John Williams), Sydney' 1976 printed 2012

 

Ed Douglas (United States of America, Australia 06 May 1943 – )
City-spaces #28, (John Williams), Sydney
1976 printed 2012
From the series City-spaces 1975-78
Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors’ Program 2012
© Ed Douglas

 

After relocating from USA to Australia in 1973, Ed Douglas spent a few years living in the country prior to taking on a teaching position at Sydney College for the Arts in 1976. The series City-spaces was commenced in Sydney and then developed further when Douglas moved to Adelaide in 1977. Having been schooled in the formal traditions of American documentary photography, Douglas’s images appear like notations of an urban explorer attempting to locate himself in a new country. Seemingly fragmentary, they look at the specificities of the mundane and the ordinary. Close acquaintances such as photographers Ingeborg Tyssen and John F. Williams appear in City spaces #29 and City spaces #28, indicating the personal nature of the series.

Intimately scaled and tonally rich, the black and white images exalt the formal beauty which can be found in the random textures of daily existence. They are also permeated with gentle humour and a sense of quiet drama that unfolds in the strangely misplaced confluences of objects, figures and spaces. Douglas’s interest in the formal and emotional qualities of topography was emblematic of new approaches in documentary photography of the time. His 1983 series of colour photographs depicting the gypsum mine on Kangaroo Island (collection of AGNSW) developed this trajectory further by fusing the aesthetics of abstraction and objective documentation.

 

Ed Douglas (United States of America, Australia 06 May 1943 - ) 'City-spaces #40, Sydney' 1976 printed 2012

 

Ed Douglas (United States of America, Australia 06 May 1943 – )
City-spaces #40, Sydney
1976 printed 2012
From the series City-spaces 1975-78
Gelatin silver photograph
23.6 x 30.7 cm image
Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors’ Program 2012
© Ed Douglas

 

Gerrit Fokkema (Papua New Guinea, Australia 1954 - ) 'Woman hosing, Canberra' 1979

 

Gerrit Fokkema (Papua New Guinea, Australia 1954 – )
Woman hosing, Canberra
1979
Gelatin silver photograph
34.9 x 46.5 cm image
© Gerrit Fokkema

 

Gerrit Fokkema’s photographs of everyday Sydney and Canberra in the early 1980s are examples of Australian photography becoming more self-aware. These decisive snapshots of suburban life reveal an irony and conjure Fokkema’s own history growing up in Queanbeyan. Though captured in seemingly banal settings, the images intrigue, pointing to issues beyond what is represented in the frame. The housewife watering the road and a young tattooed man in front of a car are both depicted alone within a sprawling suburban landscape, suggesting the isolation and boredom in the Australian dream of home ownership. The sense of strangeness in these images is consciously sought by Fokkema, aided by his embrace of the glaring and unforgiving ‘natural’ Australian light.

Gerrit Fokkema’s Woman hosing, Canberra is an affectionate and gently ironic portrait of suburban life in Canberra. Fokkema was familiar with his subject matter, raised as he was in the nearby township of Queanbeyan. After studying photography at Canberra Technical College 1974-77 he became the staff photographer for the Canberra Times in 1975. He held his first exhibition in the same year at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney. His career as a photo-journalist lead him to work with the Sydney Morning Herald in 1980 and participation with several international Day in the life of…. projects between 1986 and 1989.

Fokkema uses the ‘decisive moment’ of photo-journalism to reveal the incidental quirks of ordinary life in this image. The bland uniformity of the streetscape, with its identical archways and mundanely shuttered doors, is punctuated by the absurd proposition of a woman watering the street rather than the adjacent grass. Her presence is the only sign of life in an otherwise inanimate scene, and her actions suggest a kind of strangeness that lies within the normality of suburbia. Many of Fokkema’s images play with such chance incidences and odd juxtapositions, revealing his interest in surrealism and the notion of automatism. Indeed, the repeated archways and the lone figure inhabiting otherwise empty urban space of Woman hosing, Canberra recall the proto-typical surrealist painting, Mystery and melancholy of a street 1914, by Giorgio de Chirico. Fokkema’s image is, however, very much a product of Australia – of its bright ‘available’ light and of the dream of home-ownership. Fokkema has continued to document the Australian way of life. In 1986 he left newspapers to freelance as a commercial photographer and published Wilcannia, portrait of an Australian town. He has since exhibited works based on tender observations of his family members and of family life.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

 

Gerrit Fokkema (Papua New Guinea, Australia 1954 - ) 'Blacktown man' 1983

 

Gerrit Fokkema (Papua New Guinea, Australia 1954 – )
Blacktown man
1983
Gelatin silver photograph
30.6 x 40.6 cm image
© Gerrit Fokkema

 

The work of Gerrit Fokkema exhibits a particular sensitivity to the uneasiness of people in Australian landscapes, both urban and rural. Fokkema was born in New Guinea in 1954, but raised in Canberra and worked as a press photographer before freelancing from 1986. Although his photographs demonstrate an interest in the formal qualities of landscape, the sense of rhythm his compositions generate also evoke the monotony of Australian space – sweeping terracotta roofs and long straight paths. This monotony is only interrupted by the presence of the human figure, usually isolated, alone and awkwardly out of place. In Blacktown Man 1983, the flat image of the man appears dramatically superimposed on the land and sky of the suburban street. By reminding us of our sometimes uncomfortable relationship with the spaces we inhabit, Fokkema’s work rejects any attempt to romanticise Australian life.

 

John F Williams. 'The Rocks, Sydney' 1973

 

John F Williams
The Rocks, Sydney
1973
Gelatin silver photograph
22.6 x 34.1cm
Purchased 1989
© John F Williams

 

Trent Parke. 'Backyard swing set, QLD' 2003

 

Trent Parke
Backyard swing set, QLD
2003
From the series Minutes to midnight
Type C photograph
109.9 x 164cm
Gift of Albie Thoms in memory of Linda Slutzkin, former Head of Public Programmes, Art Gallery of New South Wales 2006
© Trent Parke

 

 

Australian vernacular photography traces developments in photographic practice from the postwar period through to the present day, with images ranging from documentary or ‘straight’ photography (where the subjects are usually unaware of the camera), through to those that look self-reflexively at the constructed nature of the medium.

The increasing role of photography in the latter part of the 20th century attests to the rising need Australians felt to apprehend the nation, personal identity and society through images. Many of these photographs offer frank perspectives on Australian culture without the romanticising tendencies of earlier photographers. Photographing the everyday became a way of understanding how Australia saw (and sees) itself, with recurrent themes such as beach culture, suburbia, race relations, protest and the role of women among the central concerns of image-makers then and now.

By the 1960s Australian photographers were comparing their work with international peers, thanks to photographic publications and the watershed 1959 tour of The family of man exhibition organised by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Institutional support for photography didn’t come until the 1970s; however those committed to the medium forged on, intent on capturing their visions of Australia photographically. The family of man exhibition toured Australia in 1959 and was enormously influential, with its themes of birth, love and death common to all humanity. However, possibilities for Australian photographers to be noticed were rare until the 1970s due to the lack of institutional support. Nonetheless, photographers from David Moore and Robert McFarlane to the young Sue Ford forged on, trying to find their own vision of Australian life and how it could be represented photographically. This exhibition looks at some of the photographers from then as well as those working more recently – such as Anne Zahalka, Trent Parke and Glenn Sloggett – to consider their various approaches to the depiction of modern Australian life.

In the Australian Photography Annual of 1947, photographer and director of the Art Gallery of NSW Hal Missingham wrote: “In a country supposedly occupied by people indulging in a vigorous outdoor life, where are the [photographic] records of beach and sport… where are the photographs of the four millions of people who live and work in our cities? What are they like – what do they do – what do they wear, and think?”

Text from the AGNSW website

 

Jeff Carter (Australia 05 Aug 1928 - Oct 2010) 'The Sunbather' 1966

 

Jeff Carter (Australia 05 Aug 1928 – Oct 2010)
The Sunbather
1966
Gelatin silver photograph
39.1 x 27.6 cm image
© Jeff Carter

 

“I don’t regard photography as an art form, although I know it can be for others… To me the camera is simply an unrivalled reporter’s tool. It is an aid to getting the story “properly true,”” Jeff Carter said in 2006. Working mainly as a photojournalist, Carter wanted to make images that depicted social reality. He aimed to show the ‘unknown’, those people who are rarely seen. His approach resulted in frank, arguably even unflattering, images of Australian life, such as this of a beach-goer in the 1960s, heralding the changing social mores of the time.

 

John F. Williams (Australia 1933 - ) 'Sydney' 1964, printed later

 

John F Williams (Australia 1933 – )
Sydney
1964, printed later
Gelatin silver photograph
24.3 x 24.3 cm image
© John F Williams

 

Sydney photographer, lecturer and historian John F. Williams has a long and personal interest in the ramifications of the Allies’ commitment to and sacrifice in the First World War which he later explored in his 1985 series From the flatlands. Williams became an amateur street photographer, inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson and the photojournalist W. Eugene Smith. He read The family of man catalogue and saw the exhibition in 1959 but he rejected its “saccharine humanism and deliberate ahistoricism” choosing instead to socially document the raw character of Australia.1

When interviewed in 1994 Williams said: “After the [First World War] you had a range of societies which were pretty much exhausted, and they tended to turn inwards. In a society like Australia which had a poorly formed image of itself, where there was no intellectual underpinning, the image of the soldier replaced everything else as a national identity.”2

Sydney expresses the ‘Anzac spirit’ born in the battlefields of Gallipoli, the Somme and Flanders, a character study of an independent, introspective soldier. With an air of grit, determinedly smoking and wearing his badge, ribbons and rosemary as remembrance, Sydney stands apart from the crowd, not marching with his regiment. Williams embraced the ‘element of chance’ or the ‘decisive moment’ as he documented the soldier in a public place observing the procession. Taken from a low angle and very close up the man is unaware of the photographer at the moment the shot was taken, apparently lost in his own memories. The old soldier represents a generation now lost to history but portraits such as these continue to reinforce the myth of national identity.

1. Jolly, M. “Faith sustained,” in Art Monthly, September 1989, pp. 18-19
2. “John Williams – photographer and historian: profile,” in Sirius, winter, Macquarie University, Sydney, 1994, p. 5

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

 

Robert McFarlane (Australia 1942 – ) 'Happening Centennial Park, Sydney' c. 1968

 

Robert McFarlane (Australia 1942 – )
Happening Centennial Park, Sydney
c. 1968
Gelatin silver photograph
25.9 x 17.6 cm image
© Robert McFarlane

 

Hal Missingham (Australia 08 Dec 1906 – 07 Apr 1994) 'Surf carnival, Cronulla' 1968, printed 1978

 

Hal Missingham (Australia 08 Dec 1906 – 07 Apr 1994)
Surf carnival, Cronulla
1968, printed 1978
Media category
Gelatin silver photograph
38.1 x 26.3 cm image
© Hal Missingham Estate

 

Photographer and former Art Gallery of NSW director, Hal Missingham wrote in the 1947 Australian Photography annual: “In a country supposedly occupied by people indulging in a vigorous outdoor life, where are the [photographic] records of beach and sport…? Where are the photographs of the four millions of people who live and work in our cities? What are they like – What do they do – What do they wear, and think?” This image points to Missingham’s own attempts to answer that question. An interesting counterpoint to the images taken at Cronulla around 40 years later, here Missingham shows a group of young women standing behind a fence watching as young men train to be lifesavers.

Hal Missingham often holidayed at his beach house at Garie in the Royal National Park south of Sydney, not far from Cronulla. In 1970 he published Close focus a book of photographic details of rocks, pools, sand and driftwood. As a beachcomber and observer of beach culture Missingham delighted in his immediate environment. Surf carnival, Cronulla is a quintessential Australian scene, one that frames an important aspect of national identity and culture. As passive observers, the 1960s was a time when many girls were still ‘minding the towels’ for the boys who surfed or competed in carnivals. Barricaded from the beach and its male activity the young women in bikinis are oblivious to the photographer who has foregrounded their relaxed tanned bodies behind the wire as they in turn observe and discuss the surf lifesavers in formation at the water’s edge. Although a beach is accessible for the majority of Australians and is now an accepted egalitarian space where women bodysurf, ride surfboards and compete along with beachgoers from diverse ethnic backgrounds, Surf carnival, Cronulla suggests a specific demography.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

 

Fiona Hall (Australia 1953 - ) 'Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia, October 1975' 1975

 

Fiona Hall (Australia 1953 – )
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia, October 1975
1975
Gelatin silver photograph
28.2 x 27.9 cm image
Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1987
© Fiona Hall

 

 

Australian vernacular photography considers how photographers have used their cameras to depict Australian life, and how ideas of the nation have been constructed through photographic images.

Sixteen Australian photographers are represented by some 27 photographs taken from the 1960s to the 2000s. The photographs range from the more conventionally photo-documentary through to later works by photographers positioned more consciously in an art context. A selection of photography books of the period are also on display.

Artists include: Jeff Carter, Ed Douglas, Peter Elliston, Gerrit Fokkema, Sue Ford, Fiona Hall, Robert McFarlane, Hal Missingham, David Moore, Trent Parke, Roger Scott, Glenn Sloggett, Ingeborg Tyssen, John F Williams, William Yang and Anne Zahalka. Each of these artists in their own way interweave personal, documentary and fictional aspects through their images.

The works in Australian vernacular photography expose the sense of humour or larrikinism often seen as typical to Australia through showing aspects of beach and urban culture that hadn’t been imaged so bluntly before the 1960s. The characters that emerge range from leathery sunbathers, beer-drinking blokes and hippies, to beach babes, student protesters and suburban housewives, shedding light on the sense of liberation and self-recognition that arose during this period.

As photography struggled to gain recognition as an art form in the mid 20th century, the influence of exhibitions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York’s Family of Man, which toured Australia in 1959, was vital in allowing Australian photographers to compare their work to that of their international peers.

Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, photographers such as Jeff Carter, Sue Ford, David Moore, Roger Scott and John F Williams worked in a photo-documentary mode that was less about staging a shot or creating formal harmony within the frame than about capturing a moment of lived reality. To this end, such photographs involved minimal intervention from the photographer, both before and after the shutter release. Subjects were often unaware of being photographed and extensive darkroom manipulation was frowned upon, the rawness of prints was supposed to signal authenticity.

This approach resulted in images that seemed to offer a frank perspective on Australian culture, without the romanticising tendencies of earlier photography, which had sought to construct ideals rather than document what was actually there. As artists began to realise what they could do with the camera, so too did the images evolve. By the 1980s and ’90s photographers were making images that showed the subject’s awareness of being photographed, as with Gerrit Fokkema, or presented a harsh, even aggressive perspective on the depicted situations by removing people altogether, as with Peter Elliston. This signalled the increasingly self-conscious role of photographers themselves in the equation, suggesting the influence of post-modern theories of subjectivity and their effect on the images produced.

By the time we reach the 2000s, artists such as William Yang, Anne Zahalka and Trent Parke are acutely aware of the photographer and photograph’s role in pointedly constructing a narrative around Australian identity and history. The exhibition maps out this history and offers unexpected insight into the construction of a particularly Australian vernacular within photographic practice.”

Press release from the AGNSW

 

 

Sue Ford (Australia 1943 - 06 Nov 2009) 'Sue Pike' 1963, printed 1988

 

Sue Ford (Australia 1943 – 06 Nov 2009)
Sue Pike
1963, printed 1988
Media category
Gelatin silver photograph
34.2 x 34.2 cm image
Gift of Tim Storrier 1989
© Estate of Sue Ford

 

Sue Ford’s photograph of her friend Sue Pike blow-drying her hair in the kitchen captures the young woman preparing for a night out. Ford often photographed those close to her as well as continually making self-portraits throughout her career. The photograph is domestic and intimate, showing a common aspect of life for young women in the 1960s. It suggests the procedure of preening necessary to go out and find ‘marriage and children’, while the alcohol and cigarette indicates the emerging movement for women’s liberation.

“My earliest “studio portraits” … were of my friends from school … These photo sessions were approached with a ceremonial seriousness, My friends usually brought different clothes with them and during the sessions we would change clothes and hairstyles.” Sue Ford 1987 1

Sue Ford took the majority of her photographs at this time with the camera set on a 1/60th of a second at f/11, a ‘recipe’ she wrote which had more chance of success. Poetic, fragmentary text relating to Ford’s 1961 photo-essay in “A sixtieth of a second: portraits of women 1961–1981” identify the young women’s recipe for flirtatious endeavour – ‘gossamer hairspray’, ‘peroxide’, ‘plucked eyebrows’, ‘big hair rollers to achieve “La Bouffant”‘, ‘Saturday nite’ and ‘Jive’. Sue Pike exemplifies the era of girls preparing for a night out with the boys in their ‘FJ Holdens and Hot Rods’. Staged in the kitchen, probably on a Saturday afternoon, Sue Pike, in a padded brunch coat with hair in rollers plugged into a portable hair dryer, will be a part of the action, the gossip and camaraderie. A further portrait taken in the same year shows Sue Pike metamorphosed as a beautiful bride, carefully coifed ash blonde hair under a white net veil, eyes momentarily shut, traditionally decorated with pearls and posy. Ford suggests in her prose and portraits that there are choices to be made – ‘marriage and children’ or mini-skirts and the Pill, as her old school friends go in different directions.

1. Ford. S. “A sixtieth of a second: portraits of women 1961-1981,” Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, 1987, p. 4

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

 

Anne Zahalka (Australia 14 May 1957 – ) 'The girls #2, Cronulla beach' 2007

 

Anne Zahalka (Australia 14 May 1957 – )
The girls #2, Cronulla beach
2007
Type C photograph
72.5 x 89.5 cm image
Gift of the artist 2011. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
© Anne Zahalka. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney

 

As part of a generation of Australian women artists who came to the fore in the early 1980s, Anne Zahalka’s practice has always been concerned with questioning dominant myths and cultural constructs. The broad sweep of Zahalka’s oeuvre has often been underpinned by a common strategy: the world in her images appears as theatre where place, gender and national identity are questioned.

Many of Zahalka’s more recent works are located outside the studio though the natural environment can be seen to be equally constructed. In The girls #2, Cronulla beach, the photographer has returned to the seaside, which was the setting for one of her most iconic series, Bondi: playground of the Pacific 1989. The girls was made as a response to the Cronulla riots and after an introduction to Aheda Zanetti, the designer of the burqini. Zahalka “also knew of a documentary film being made following the recruiting of Lebanese men and women into the lifesaving club. It seemed like there was change adrift on the beachfront.”1 The permutations and post-modern anxiety about what constitutes Australian identity seen in the Bondi… series, have spilled out into the real world. But the image of these young Muslim women lifeguards seems to celebrate the potential to transgress accepted value systems.

Anne Zahalka said in 1995: “I am primarily concerned with… representations to do with place, identity and culture. Through the appropriation and reworking of familiar icons and styles I seek to question (and understand) their influence, meaning and value.” Twelve years later, Zahalka continues this line of inquiry with the series Scenes from the Shire. In this image, three Muslim girls wearing Burqinis (swimwear made for Muslim women conceived by Lebanese-Australian designer Aheda Zanetti) are standing cross-armed on Cronulla beach, a lifesaving raft is in the background. Zahalka made this work in response to the Cronulla riots of 2005. The image juxtaposes Muslim tradition with the Australian icon of the lifesaver, suggesting cultural overlap and changing national identity.

1. A. Zahalka et al, “Hall of mirrors: Anne Zahalka portraits 1987-2007,” Australian centre of photography, Sydney 2007, p. 43

 

William Yang (Australia 1943 – ) 'Ruby's kitchen Enngonia' 2000, printed 2002

 

William Yang (Australia 1943 – )
Ruby’s kitchen Enngonia
2000, printed 2002
From the series miscellaneous obsessions
Type C photograph
35.5 x 53.5 cm image
© William Yang

 

William Yang was born in North Queensland, a third generation Chinese-Australian. He is known both as a photographer and for his monologues with slides which he has presented around the world to great acclaim. One of these, Sadness 1992, was adapted for the screen by Tony Ayres and won AWGIEs amongst other awards. A major retrospective of Yang’s work, Diaries, was held at the State Library of NSW in 1998. Through April 24 – June 1, 2003 Yang presented all his monologues at Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney.

Yang has documented various subcultures over the last 30 years and this is reflected in his photographs as well as his monologues. A remarkable storyteller with a unique style, his current work is a synthesis of his ongoing concerns. While these concerns spring very much from his experiences growing up with a Chinese background in far north Queensland, through to his exploration of the gay community in Sydney, the work transcends the personal and becomes a meditation on the subtleties of the ordinary and everyday.

This series of images reflects Yang’s current life of travel and contact with his far flung friends and extended family. Though the subject, at its most superficial, is food, where, when and who is there at the time is of equal importance. Consequently each photograph in the series presents a web of connections and is underpinned with similar intentions to Yang’s other work, regardless of the subject.

“I don’t think I have a great technical attitude but I am interested in people,” William Yang said in 1998. Yang is known for his candid photographs of friends and situations he encounters. The images are usually accompanied by a story about his life, sometimes handwritten on the print itself, sometimes spoken aloud in performative contexts. He uses narrative as a way of locating his images in a particular moment in his personal history as well as social history at large. Yang explores themes around Australian and gay identity in a way that is frank and sometimes confronting. In this work, from a series about food, a chunk of kangaroo meat sits casually atop a laminate bench; other Australian icons such as Wonder White and Weet-Bix are also visible. The work allows for a multiplicity of signs to coexist: the slaughtered Australian mascot, the drab generic kitchen, the processed ‘white’ bread, with the Chinese-Australian photographer observing it all.

 

Glenn Sloggett (Australia 1964 - ) 'Cheaper & deeper' 1996

 

Glenn Sloggett (Australia 1964 – )
Cheaper & deeper
1996
From the series Cheaper & deeper
Type C photograph
80.0 x 79.9 cm image
Gift of Amanda Love 2011. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
© Glenn Sloggett

 

Based in Melbourne, Glen Sloggett has exhibited extensively across Australia, including a touring exhibition with the Australian Centre for Photography, New Australiana 2001. Internationally, his work was included in the 11th Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh, 2004 and the 9th Mois de la Photo ‘Image and Imagination’ in Montreal 2005.

Sloggett’s work depicts scenes from Australian suburbia with a startling mix of warmth and melancholy. Devoid of people, his photographs reflect the isolation and abandonment that afflicts the fringes of Australian urban centres. His images don’t flinch from the ugly, kitsch, and bleak. Sloggett says, “No matter where I go, I always find places and environments that are in the process of falling down. These are the images of Australia that resonate most strongly for me as an artist. I want to capture the last signs of optimism before inevitable disrepair.” (Glen Sloggett, quoted in A. Foster. Cheaper and deeper, ex. Bro. ACP 2005) His images of disrepair are infused with black humour and at the same time, affection for Australian suburbia.

From dumpy derelict flats to pavements graffitied with the words ‘mum killers’, Sloggett’s photographs capture an atmosphere of neglect. One classic image depicts a pink hearse, with the slogan Budget burials cheaper & deeper!! stencilled in vinyl on the side window. Another image shows an industrial barrel, on which is scrawled the evocative word ‘Empty’. In a third image, a dog rests on the pavement outside ‘Kong’s 1 hour dry cleaning’ – the bold red and yellow lettering on its window in stark contrast to the cracked paint of the exterior wall, and half-clean sheet that forms a makeshift curtain. These images have a profundity that is at once touching and surprising; as Alasdair Foster has commented, “In a world of rabid materialism and shallow sentiment, Sloggett’s photographs show us that life really is much cheaper and deeper.”

These five works by Glenn Sloggett serve as forms of photographic black humour. Devoid of people and always in colour, his photographs often take mundane elements from the world and make us notice their tragicomedy. This group is rooted in a play with text, where the tension between what is written and what we see is paramount. Sloggett makes comment on Australian life and culture, showing how the fringes of towns and the paraphernalia of the everyday give insight into the Australian psyche.

 

Glenn Sloggett (Australia 1964 - ) 'Hope Street' 2000

 

Glenn Sloggett (Australia 1964 – )
Hope Street
2000
From the series Cheaper & deeper
Type C photograph
80.4 x 80.6 cm image
Gift of Amanda Love 2011. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
© Glenn Sloggett

 

Glenn Sloggett (Australia 1964 - ) 'Empty' 2000

 

Glenn Sloggett (Australia 1964 – )
Empty
2000
From the series Cheaper & deeper
Type C photograph
80.4 x 80.6 cm image
Gift of Amanda Love 2011. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
© Glenn Sloggett

 

Glenn Sloggett (Australia 1964 - ) 'Kong's 1 hour dry cleaning' 1998

 

Glenn Sloggett (Australia 1964 – )
Kong’s 1 hour dry cleaning
1998
From the series Cheaper & deeper
Type C photograph
80.2 x 80.0 cm image
Gift of Amanda Love 2011. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
© Glenn Sloggett

 

 

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Opening hours:
Open every day 10am – 5pm
except Christmas Day and Good Friday

Art Gallery of New South Wales website

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13
Jan
12

Exhibition: ‘Summers Past: Golden Days in the Sun 1950-1970’ at The Victorian Archives Centre, North Melbourne

Exhibition dates:  15th November 2011 – 15th April 2012

 

Many thankx to The Victorian Archives Centre for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Anon. 'Sunbathing, Sydney Beach, NSW' c.1955 National Archives of Australia

 

Anon
Sunbathing, Sydney Beach, NSW
c. 1955
National Archives of Australia

 

Anon. 'Christmas party on Bondi Beach, Sydney' 1959 National Archives of Australia

 

Anon
Christmas party on Bondi Beach, Sydney
1959
National Archives of Australia

 

Anon. '1952 Miss Pacific finalists Mary Clifton, Pamela Jansen and Judy Worrad, stand in front of surfboards on Bondi Beach, Sydney' 1952 National Archives of Australia

 

Anon
1952 Miss Pacific finalists Mary Clifton, Pamela Jansen and Judy Worrad, stand in front of surfboards on Bondi Beach, Sydney
1952
National Archives of Australia

 

 

The Victorian Archives Centre plays host to regular displays of original records from our collection as well as touring exhibitions about Victorian stories. Over Summer, the Victorian Archives Centre will present Summers Past: Golden Days in the Sun 1950-1970, a fascinating photographic exhibition highlighting Australia’s fascination with the sun and sea.

Summers Past will explore our enduring love affair of all things summer, invoking memories of carefree sunny days at the beach in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. This is your last chance to view this exhibition before it returns to the National Archives of Australian in April 2012.

So slip on your cossie, slop on the sunscreen and head down to the Victorian Archives Centre this summer!
Summers Past: Golden Days in the Sun 1950-1970 will be on display until April 2012. Entry is free.

 

 

Anon. 'Sunbathers relax under a low umbrella at Bondi, NSW' 1956 National Archives of Australia

 

Anon
Sunbathers relax under a low umbrella at Bondi, NSW
1956
National Archives of Australia

 

Anon. 'Surfer and bikini girl on the sand' 1969 National Archives of Australia

 

Anon
Surfer and bikini girl on the sand
1969
National Archives of Australia

 

Anon. 'Snack bar, Surfers Paradise, QLD' 1971 National Archives of Australia

 

Anon
Snack bar, Surfers Paradise, QLD
1971
National Archives of Australia

 

Anon. 'Surf lifesaving, Bondi Beach' 1960 National Archives of Australia

 

Anon
Surf lifesaving, Bondi Beach
1960
National Archives of Australia

 

Anon. 'Surf board riders, Torquay, VIC' 1967 National Archives of Australia

 

Anon
Surf board riders, Torquay, VIC
1967
National Archives of Australia

 

 

The Victorian Archives Centre
99 Shiel Street
North Melbourne, Victoria 3051
Australia

The Victorian Archives Centre website

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21
Nov
08

Opening: Rennie Ellis ‘No standing only dancing’ at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

Exhibition dates: 31st October 2008 – 22nd February 2009

Opening: October 30th 2008

 

 

Rennie Ellis. 'Girls' Night Out, Prahran' 1980

 

Rennie Ellis
Girls’ Night Out, Prahran
1980
Silver gelatin, selenium toned fibre based print

 

 

A very social and lively crowd gathered at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square on the evening of 30th October to celebrate the life and work of the Australian social photographer Rennie Ellis.

After opening comments by the NGV Director Dr Gerard Vaughan there was a funny and erudite speech by Phillip Adams AO who had flown down from Sydney to open the exhibition. The crowd enjoyed the anecdotes about his relationship with Rennie and said he thought that dying was a good career move on Rennie’s behalf and that he would have loved the fact that he had a retrospective at the NGV. Adams observed that Ellis used to be everywhere, at every party and opening, using his astute eye to record and never to judge. Applause all round for a life well lived.

On entering the exhibition space viewers were treated to a simple but effective installation of his work, with overtones of the 1970’s – 1980s interior decor with yellow and white circle graphics and hanging fabric chandelier. The curatorial staff at the NGV (notably Susan van Wyk) have chosen over 200 works from an archive of over half a million images for the exhibition in a process that has taken over two and a half years.

As an immigrant arriving in Australia in 1986 I remember 397 Club that used to be at 397 Swanston Street. After every other place had closed this club attracted people from every walk of life: pimps, prostitutes, drag queens, faggots, lesbians, straights and druggies. Rennie was probably there recording the scene. We were there just for a good time. It was fun and this is what Ellis’ photography is. Not burdened by overarching conceptual ideas Ellis recorded what he saw insightfully, balancing social commentary and spatial organisation in the construction of his images. The image Girls’ Night Out, Prahran 1980 (above) is a pearler (with the look on the woman’s face) and neatly encapsulates the magic of his image making.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Opening of the exhibition 'No standing only dancing' by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008

 

Opening of the exhibition 'No standing only dancing' by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008

 

Opening of the exhibition 'No standing only dancing' by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008

 

Opening of the exhibition 'No standing only dancing' by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008

 

Opening of the exhibition 'No standing only dancing' by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008

 

Opening of the exhibition 'No standing only dancing' by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008

 

Opening of the exhibition 'No standing only dancing' by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008

 

Opening of the exhibition 'No standing only dancing' by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008

 

Opening of the exhibition No standing only dancing by Rennie Ellis at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia October 30th 2008.
Photographs © Marcus Bunyan

 

 

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
10am – 5pm
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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Padlocks/People’ 1994-96

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