Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Behind the scenes: A fine possesion

July 11th, 2014 by

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This great shot was taken recently by Arts & Design curator Eva Czernis-Ryl in Canberra. It captures the  moment when Susan Taylor, the owner of Department of the Exterior fashion boutique  and an art and jewellery collector, put on her black Karl Fritsch ring to show it to the delighted photographer Marinco Kojdanovski.

Our team interviewed Susan about her passion for contemporary jewellery for the Museum’s upcoming exhibition A fine possession: jewellery and identity due to open at the Powerhouse on  20 September.

Photo by Eva Czernis-Ryl. © Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

 


Burning incense to the city god at the Chenghuang Temple

July 10th, 2014 by

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This photograph from the Hedda Morrison collection shows worshippers at the Chenghuang Temple, Peking, in the 1930s. The high angle view, stylistically modernist, emphasises the photographer’s physical as well as cultural distance from the subject.

Hedda Morrison, (1908-1991), was born Hedda Hammer in Stuttgart, Germany. She acquired her first camera, a Box Brownie, at the age of 11. In 1931, after completing studies at the State Institute for Photography in Munich and working in the studio of photographer Adolf Lazi (1884-1955), she answered an advertisement in a photography journal for a job in Peking.

In Peking Morrison managed Hartung’s photographic studio from 1933-1938. After her contract expired she continued to work freelance from a small darkroom in her home in Nanchang Street. The young photographer travelled around the city, usually by bicycle, often photographing its inhabitants. This photograph is part of the Hedda Morrison Photographic Collection.   Other images from the same collection have also been posted on Photo of the Day.

Photography by Hedda Morrison
No known copyright restrictions.


The Queen’s Statue

July 9th, 2014 by

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This photograph was taken by Henry King on a rainy Tuesday 24 January 1888, during the Centennial Week celebrations in Sydney. The following day Newcastle Morning Herald reported:

 The ceremony of unveiling the statue of the Queen at the head of King Street at noon today, by Lady Carrington, attracted an immense crowd, estimated at 60,000 persons, not a quarter of whom witnessed the ceremony – only those privileged to be admitted inside the immense enclosure, including the Governors and distinguished visitors from neighbouring colonies, our own members of Parliament with their wives and families, and others favoured with tickets, besides 1500 children from various Public and Denominational schools. The Governor and Lady Carrington were received with deafening cheers.

 (Newcastle Morning Herald, 25 Jan 1888, p.5)

The statue was made by a distinguished English sculptor Sir Edgar Boehm as a replacement for the one lost in the Garden Palace fire on 22 September 1882. According to the commentators of the day the new figure was regarded as a distinct improvement. Mr Boehem was particularly complimented on succeeding to combine “the dignity of a great monarch and the kindness of a good woman.” (South Australian Register, 25 Jan 1888, p.5)

 

Tyrrell Collection, 85/1285-232

No known copyright restrictions

 


Port Kennedy, Thursday Island

July 8th, 2014 by

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This photograph from the Tyrrell collection is one of three showing views of Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. The photograph, from an unattributed studio, was likely to have been reproduced as a postcard, catering to the market for views of the ‘exotic’ South Seas that existed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Torres Strait supplied over half the world demand for pearl shell in the 1890s.  Pearl shell and ‘Mother of Pearl’ were the main focus of the industry. In addition to buttons, pearl shell was used for cutlery, hair combs, jewellery, decorative objects and inlay for furniture. Pearl shells from the Torres Strait were also exported to the United States and England especially for use in the manufacture of buttons and buckles for the clothing industry.

For more on the history of the pearling industry in Australia see the About Australia website.

 

Tyrrell Collection, 85/1286-673

No known copyright restrictions


Farmer and Company c.1875

July 7th, 2014 by

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We also made an expedition into Sydney and paid a visit to Farmer’s, where I fitted out myself with some new garments, which I badly wanted, not having been in Sydney for a year before. The said Farmer’s is a most convenient place. It is an immense establishment divided into departments for everything; you can choose a dress, have the material sent to the dressmaking department, where it is made for you in the best fashion; go to another for a mantle, another for a bonnet, another for underclothes; another large room for carpets and upholstery, and all the very best that can be had in Sydney. It is a wonderful save of time and trouble.

Rachel Henning, February 17, 1875 from The Letters of Rachel Henning, Edited by David Adams, Penguin, Sydney, 1977

The photograph above shows an exterior of Farmer and Company’s department store, Victoria House in Pitt Street, Sydney. The architect was Canadian born John Horbury Hunt,  a founding member of the local Society for the Promotion of Architecture and Fine Art, forerunner of the Institute of Architects of New South Wales. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Hunt’s architecture was marked by power, character and the use of revealed ‘natural’ materials. His skill with timber and brickwork was particularly outstanding and he was a master of complexity of form and asymmetrical balance.

Also according to the ADB, Farmer and Company was a drapery business established in 1839 by Joseph and Caroline Farmer. Located initially opposite the Victoria Theatre in Pitt Street, it expanded into a purpose built department store further south on Pitt Street in 1874. For over a century Farmer & Co. was a leading innovator in Australian retail trading and an important Sydney commercial and social institution: in 1866 it encouraged the Saturday Half Holiday Association and later became the first business house in Australia to close at 1 p.m. on Saturdays. In 1923 the company received Australia’s first commercial broadcasting licence and broadcast as 2FC (Farmer & Co.).

A view of the store’s interior can be seen on the State Library of New South Wales website.

Tyrrell Collection, 85/1286-1687

No known copyright restrictions

 


Market Street, looking east

July 4th, 2014 by

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This high angle view of across Sydney from Market Street shows St James station (1926) and Hyde Park without the Archibald Fountain, (1932) and so can be dated some time between those years. Like the view of the QVB posted on Photo of the Day on June 26, this image of modern Sydney was taken much later than many of the other images Sydney views in the Tyrrell collection.

 

Tyrrell Collection, 85/1286-1551

No known copyright restrictions


Manly’s famous Norfolk Pines

July 3rd, 2014 by

85/1285-200 Glass negative, full plate, 'The Esplanade, Manly, Looking South, No. 2', Henry King, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1900.

This image shows the famous Norfolk Island Pines at Manly Beach probably not long after they were first planted. Two of the trees are more established and are providing shade for a few people taking in the sea air.

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 4 June 1935, Norfolk Island Pines were one of species recommended Mr Charles Moore, Director of the Botanic Gardens, who had been asked to investigate tree plantings by the Beautification Committee for Manly Council in about 1877. The other two species were Monterey Pines and Moreton Bay Figs. Credit for planting many of the pines was given to Mr E M Pitt and Mr. Charles Hayes. Mr Pitt stated ‘… I am also able to say that with Mr. Adam Russell, the overseer, many a week-end was spent planting trees in the suitable places. He also advised ‘preparing the places by filling the holes with village refuse was the masterstroke that made the pines prosper’.

Today the pines are still synonymous with Manly and are subject to a special management plan by Manly Council to ensure they are properly looked after (no longer with village refuse) and replanted as required.

Post by Lynne McNairn, Web and Social Media

Photography by Henry King, c 1885 (85/1285-200)
No known copyright restrictions


Rough living for the timber getters

July 2nd, 2014 by

85/1286-750 Glass plate negative, full plate, untitled, men outside a slab hut, unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923

This image shows a rough timber getters hut surrounded (for the moment) by thick rainforest probably in mountainous country on the east coast of New South Wales. The hut in the foreground is constructed from materials harvested from the surrounding forest; small logs and bark. The hut in rear makes use of another material which would gain prominence in Australia, corrugated iron.

The most valuable rainforest timber was Red Cedar but by the 1850′s it had been logged out of many areas and was found only in very inaccessible locations. Tyrrell Collection photographs are generally in the range 1880 to 1923. These men might have been looking for Red Cedar but are likely to be harvesting other timber such as Blue Gum. It was hard physical work in steep and often remote country. The men lived in huts such as this one while they were ‘on the job’ returning to their homes with their hard earned wages after weeks or sometimes months. Trees were felled with hand tools such as axe and saw then taken out by bullock team. Once the valuable timber was removed the remaining forest was often burnt down to create farm land.

Post by Lynne McNairn, Web and Social Technologies

Photography: Tyrrell Collection, unattributed studio


Selling persimmons, Peking

July 1st, 2014 by

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Hedda Morrison photographed many street sellers in Peking as she travelled around the city on her bicycle. In her book, A photographer in Old Peking she wrote:

Much of the life of Peking people took place in the streets. Most household essentials were hawked through the streets, each hawker with his distinctive cry accompanied by an equally distinctive clapper or hand gong or trumpet.

Hedda Morrison, A Photographer in Old Peking, Oxford University Press, 1985, p.89

In this photograph Morrison has used a strong diagonal to create a dynamic composition which leads the eye from the produce laid out in the foreground directly to the young girls whose job it was to sell them. Behind her we have a glimpse of life on the street as bicycles and rickshaws pass by.

According to our collection records, the persimmon is one of the most important fruit trees in Peking and has been cultivated for hundreds of years. Persimmons are an autumnal fruit and were popular offerings for the autumn festival, owing to their auspicious orange-red colour and the roundness of their shape, alluding to reunions. Persimmon trees are grown in orchards but they were also popular in the temple grounds and gardens. Traditionally, the fruit is kept outside throughout winter and is frozen or dried, allowing it to be eaten throughout the year.

The persimmon was also used as a design motif in China, as in the persimmon shaped dress toggle that can be viewed via the online collection index.

Hedda Morrison, (1908-1991), was born Hedda Hammer in Stuttgart, Germany. She acquired her first camera, a Box Brownie, at the age of 11. In 1931, after completing studies at the State Institute for Photography in Munich and working in the studio of photographer Adolf Lazi (1884-1955), she answered an advertisement in a photography journal for a job in Peking.

In Peking Morrison managed Hartung’s photographic studio from 1933-1938. After her contract expired she continued to work freelance from a small darkroom in her home in Nanchang Street. The young photographer travelled around the city, usually by bicycle, often photographing its inhabitants. This photograph is part of the Hedda Morrison Photographic Collection.   Other images from the same collection have also been posted on Photo of the Day.

Photography by Hedda Morrison
No known copyright restrictions.


Letter delivery by horse drawn mail coach

June 30th, 2014 by

85/1284-338 Glass negative, full plate, 'Mail Coach', Kerry and Co, Sydney, Australia, c. 1884-1917

Australia Post has been in the news lately because of proposed changes to its letter delivery service.

This image shows a previous mode of letter delivery, the horse drawn coach. In Australia the most famous coaching firm was Cobb & Co. For seventy years, from the 1850s to the 1920s it provided a service renowned for its speed and reliability, delivering letters and passengers on time, despite often adverse weather conditions.

This photograph shows one example of the conditions endured, titled ‘Mail Coaching in the West’ it shows a team of five horses hitched to a mud splattered coach standing almost to their knees in flood water. The horses all have their ears back and their heads down, clearly not enjoying the experience. The men, one of whom has bare legs, also look glum. On the level flood plains west of the Great Divide, water can sit on the ground for many weeks, making very heaving going for horse drawn vehicles.

The current Australia Post letter delivery service is losing money due to competition from email and other electronic communications. It was the same for Cobb & Co. Competition from the railways and motor vehicles led to decline in profits and Cobb & Co ceased trading in 1929.

The museum holds an original Cobb & Co coach in the collection.

Post by Lynne McNairn, Web & Social Technologies

Photography: Kerry and Co, C 1895
No known copyright restrictions


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