The Museums Australia conference committee has been working hard on the development of the Museums Australia conference to be held in Sydney in May 2015. After some discussions with them they have approved in concept this idea – the setting up of a live (or as near to live as possible) pirate video channel to run in the months leading up to the conference and over the days the conference is being held. Continue reading
Unidentified man, from collodion negative, Freeman Brothers Studio, 1871-1880, Powerhouse Museum, H8504-22
Over the last couple of months I have been working on a previously uncatalogued collection of large format, 50.8 cm x 44.5 cm, glass plate negatives donated to thePowerhouse Museum in 1969. The 28 collodion portraits were found in a chest in our stores at Castle Hill and have been identified as all being originally taken by the Freeman Borthers Studio here in Sydney. We are currently conserving and cataloguing the photographs but hope to be posting them onto flickr commons by the end of the year for researchers to use.
The Freeman Brother Studio lays claim to being the longest running studio in Australia. It was established as the ‘Freeman Brothers and Wheeler’ by William Freeman and his brother James in George Street in 1854; it was still running nearly 150 years later. James was the more experienced of the two having worked in Richard Beard’s gallery in Bath before coming to Australia and was certainly instrumental in the success with which they plied their trade in Sydney. Continue reading
George St, Sydney, photo by William Hetzer, 1858-1863, original held by Powerhouse Museum
The first two photographic processes were the daguerreotype (which created a positive image on a silver plate) and the calotype (which created a paper negative). Both became commercially available in 1839 but ufortunately the small population, patent restrictions and uncertainty about their permanence limited photography’s use in Australia before the 1850s.
The daguerreotype was certainly the more successful of the two processes, and was the one adopted by Australia’s first commercial photographer, George Baron Goodman, who arrived in 1842. The calotype on the other hand found more general use among gentlemen amateurs in England when its inventor William Henry Fox-Talbot relaxed his patents to allow non-commercial use of the process. As a result the process became more viable and one of the first commercial photographers to use the process in Australia was William Hetzer. Continue reading
The Sydney International Exhibition opened the doors of its main building the ‘Garden Palace’ on 17 September 1879 and closed them seven months later. Many figures in colonial Sydney talked of the success of the huge project and the Commissioners of the Sydney International Exhibition certainly felt it had “undoubtedly emphasized a new era in the history of the Colony, and projected the value of Australia on the minds of the inhabitants of those older countries”. But the 1,045,898 visitors that passed through its gates were perhaps the most eloquent testimony to its triumph.
The main feature of the Sydney exhibition, like the international ones that preceded it, was an ornate building, the ‘Garden Palace’, which was over 244 metres long and had a floor space of over 112,000 metres. Designed by the Colonial Architect James Barnet the building included 4.5 million feet of timber, 2.5 million bricks and 243 tone of galvanised corrugated iron. Continue reading