Drysdale’s German Shopkeeper

The budding gardener in this photograph, Gustav (Gus) Friedrich Wagner (1881-1950) was the third of the six children of Peter Christian Wagner and his wife, Johanna Hermina ‘Mina’ (nee Rosler). Gus would become a mainstay of Jindera society, operating Wagner’s store for 36 years until his death and was reputedly the subject of Russell Drysdale’s […]

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A Bit of Love in Every Stitch

This elaborately embroidered coat was once worn by Gustav (Gus) Friedrich Wagner (1881–1950) and is thought to have been made by his mother, Johanna Hermine (Mina) (1857–1921) in the nineteenth century German style. The coat is made from black cotton velvet with white embroidery and lace trim and bone false buttons. The side view of […]

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Seeing Herman Rosler

If it possible to ascribe personal characteristics based on a photograph this portrait of Julius Herman Rosler (1825-1914) – known as John – suggests a self-confident man determined to make his mark on the world, something he certainly did. One obituary published upon Rosler’s death was subtitled ‘A Romantic Career’ which somewhat downplays a life […]

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Scratch, Scratch, Squeak

Imagine the scratchy, squeaky sound this slate pencil made against this slate when five-year-old Alice Conway began practicing her writing on it in 1894 in Berry. Amplify that sound, according to the number of children in her school, all writing at different paces and rhythms, and we hear the uncomfortable noise of a typical nineteenth […]

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Sewn at Sea

What was thirteen-year-old Irish girl Ann Boyd thinking about as she stood on the deck of the emigrant ship Australia on 8 June 1853, as it sailed into Sydney Harbour and approached Dawes Point to lower its anchor? Accompanied by her parents Mary and Adam, and her eight siblings, Mary might have been impressed by […]

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Dressed to Thrill

By the age of ten Rocky Cameron (1944-2016) was already an experienced performer. He had ‘cut his teeth’ on the greater-Sydney radio circuit – 2UW, 2KY, 2GB & 2KA – but even with those successes he still felt his nerves swell. Following the introduction of television to Australia, Rocky made it to the stage of […]

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Watching the Game

First recorded in the English-speaking world in the seventeenth century, hopscotch as a children’s game conjures images and sounds of laughter, joy, and play-themes that art photographer Michael Cook (1968-) comments on through their visual omission in his work Mother (Hopscotch). Speaking directly to the artist’s personal past as an Indigenous adoptee, and to the […]

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Merry Go Round

The sundial, the earliest device for time-keeping, indicates the time of day by the position of cast shadow from a vertical object. As the sun moves across the sky, the shadow of the object moves, marking the passage of time. In Mother (Merry-Go-Round), artist Michael Cook (1968-) has utilised the placement of the Mother offset […]

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‘To Orange With Love’

In 1988, and with camera in hand, the celebrated Sydney-based photographer Max Dupain (1911-1992) ventured west to the town of Orange. More well-known for capturing city skyscrapers, harbour ferries, and bathers on sandy beaches, Dupain went to Orange at the request of Peter O’Neill, then Director of Orange Regional Gallery. O’Neill had asked Dupain to […]

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