Julia Clark: A Question of Stupidity & the NLA


Cardboard convict
Hyde Park Barracks Sydney
Photo © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

This photograph (above) of a cardboard convict was taken by us for this blog at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, NSW on the 4th March 2009 (EXIF 2009.03.04) at 16.15 pm with a Canon Powershot SX110 IS.

Theft of our photo on Bob Mainwaring’s book cover
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR

Our photograph of the Hyde Park Barracks cardboard convict was stolen from this blog and published on the cover of a book titled Exiled to the Colonies 1835 by Bob Mainwaring. We spotted the book with our photograph on the cover at Hobart Airport and took this photograph (above) of it on the bookstand on 4th October 2012 (EXIF 2012-10-04) at 09.27 am using a Canon Powershot SX110 IS. The publishers had NOT acknowledged our copyright, nor sought our permission to use the photograph. They were issued with an Australian Copyright Council notice of violation, and the book was re-issued with a new cover without our photograph, and without due apology to this blog.

NOW READ on about this other copyright abuser of our intellectual property ...

If A.H. Boyd were alive today, he would be very surprised indeed to read that he was the photographer of the extant Tasmanian prisoners’ photographs from the 1870s-80s we currently hold in public and private collections.

Obituary for A.H. Boyd,The Mercury, 24 November 1891

This is the obituary for the Tasmanian penal administrator A.H. Boyd, published in The Mercury 24 November 1891. There is no mention of photography because A.H. Boyd was NOT a photographer: he has never been documented in newspapers or validated in any other publicly available contemporary document as either an amateur or official photographer. He was certainly NOT the photographer of three thousand and more Tasmanian prisoners between 1872-1886, the years when commercial photographer and civil servant Thomas J. Nevin, with his brother Constable John Nevin, were employed by the Municipal Police Office and Prisons Department in Hobart to photograph offenders on arrest, arraignment and release. See the list of thousands of prisoners recorded at the Hobart Gaol 1873-1892 by the website Graves of Tasmania. However, for the duration of his public service, especially from the mid 1860s to the 1880s, The Mercury published dozens of articles and readers’ letters protesting at A. H. Boyd’s bullying treatment of employees: his treatment of surveyor Piguenit was brutal and reported at length in 1873. Boyd’s promotion above others who were far more deserving such as Hobart Gaol Keeper Ringrose Atkins was due entirely to the favors extended to him by his brother-in-law (and Thomas Nevin’s family solicitor) Attorney-General W.R. Giblin.

More tourism propaganda about A.H. Boyd from this solipsistic, barefaced plagiarist and disgraced former “Interpretations manager” called Julia Clark at the Port Arthur Historic Site has now appeared on the NLA catalogues against Nevin’s accessioned and long-standing accreditation as the professional photographer of Tasmanian prisoner mugshots – or “Convict Portraits 1874” as the NLA calls them (as at May 2010).


Charles Hayes, per Moffat, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture].
No photographer name or studio stamp appears on these photographs.
Formerly attributed to Thomas J. Nevin, the portraits are now considered more likely to have been taken by A.H. Boyd. See: Julia Clark. A question of attribution: Port Arthur’s convict portraits in Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol 12, 2010, p77-97.; Part of collection: Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874.; Title from inscription on verso.; Inscription: “75 ; Charles Hayes, per Moffat [?], taken at Port Arthur, 1874”–In ink on verso.; Condition: Some foxing.; Also available in an electronic version via the Internet at: http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-vn4506217.
Hayes, Charles — Portraits.
Convicts — Tasmania — Port Arthur — Portraits.
Image number
Contributor Boyd, A. H. (Aldolarius Humphrey), 1829-1891..

This dead-end anomaly about Boyd was first raised on our weblogs back in 2005. Clark has had five years to come up with factual evidence: “considered more likely… ” is not evidence, it is more evidence that there IS NO EVIDENCE. There never was an historical event where some one called A.H. Boyd photographed prisoners in Tasmania in the 1870s-1880s.

In her own words (and very few in this article ARE her own words apart from the archeological fictions), Clark states clearly that there is NO official record of A.H. Boyd taking prisoners’ photographs, yet she persists in arguing his case:

Clark JACHS 2010 p90

Clark, p. 90, JACHS 2010
Photo © KLW NFC 2010 ARR

Click on images for readable version

With craven dishonesty, Clark has the National Library technicians responsible for this egregious and capricious act of misattribution eating out of her hand. She firstly pushed onto them a pointless and irrelevant essay in 2007,the objective of which was to attack and discredit Nevin through his descendants, and now with this “article” which she hopes will mislead the public sufficiently into backing her “bet” on A.H. Boyd. To poor Julia Clark, the issue is all about descendants, so the question has to be asked: is she descendant from a convict, is this green-eyed resentment masking the sting of the “convict stain” which motivates her malice? Or is she just a bully,  hence the Boyd fascination?

Clark JACHS 2010 p83

Clark, JACHS 2010, p83

Photo © KLW NFC 2010 ARR
Click on images for readable version

Look carefully at this excerpt from page 83 of the Journal of Australian Colonial History 2010: the Nevin descendants “make very public and strident claims” – no mention of course that reputable historians, Prof. Joan Kerr, State Librarian Geoff Stilwell and curator John McPhee were the authorities who researched Nevin’s attribution in the decades 1970s-1990s. No mention either that these weblogs have been documenting the misattribution at various main URLS since 2005,nor is there mention of the extensive print based articles and citations by others across the web. Clark has gorged herself on every topic/idea put forward on these weblogs since 2005 and re-presented them as her own, with no acknowledgment other than this pathetic little cock-a-snook. Her theft of our research has put her on notice to her publisher, the JACHS, to repress the article from online distribution; to her PhD supervisor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart; and to the Director at the University of Tasmania to suspend her candidacy. The Australian Copyright Council has been aware of Clark since 2009 when we placed more and more information with finer detail onto the weblogs, including photographs of convicts not available online at the Mitchell Library SLNSW or elsewhere  and became aware of exactly what she was copying and downloading. We have no article posted on the date cited above: 6 September 2009, but most of our research concerning the Mitchell Library photographs by Nevin we had placed online by August 2009, together with snippets of relevant police records, which were then extensively plagiarised by Clark for the last half of her article. Read the sidebars here for our copyright remits.

Gossip, gambling and gleaning are the cornerstone of Clark’s evidence and argument : she offers anecdotal evidence which was “gleaned” from A.H. Boyd descendants who “confidently recognise the images as his“, sufficient to lay her “bet” on A.H. Boyd.

Clark, JACHS 2010, p.89
Photo © KLW NFC 2010 ARR
Click on images for readable version

See also this critique by Tim Causer, Bentham Project, University College London.

Thomas J. Nevin and descendants are apparently one of the more recent examples in a long line of Clark’s personal targets. See this article on her MO in Hobart museums by M. Anderson. Clark’s attack on the “Georgian splendour school of history” is deeply ironic, given that this Commandant A.H. Boyd she so firmly wants to promote as the prisoners’ photographer at Port Arthur was just that – a Georgian middle-class gent revelling in the spoils of his own corruption, a renowned bully reviled by the public in his own day. In Kay Daniel’s words, Clark’s analytical method is hypocritical – it’s “the view from the Commandant’s verandah school of history” – which she proscribes while pretending solidarity with her target, whether Aborigines or convicts. Of course, “Nevin” is a name to conjure with in Australian culture: Clark has gone for the tall-poppy syndrome tactic of piggy-backing on the name while cutting down the poppy, and that raises question about her psychological stability.

As Maragaret Anderson states, Clark admitted candidly:

We may have overstated the case in our determination to act as an emetic to the genteel antiquarianism of the ‘Georgian splendour’ school of history. We probably did, but the public loved it anyway. Or most of them did. [27]

From M. Anderson, http://nma.gov.au/research/understanding-museums/MAnderson_2011.html

So there you have it: “to act as as an emetic”. Julia Clark, the human suppository, is by her own admission just an irritant.  Anderson’s comments applaud Clark’s use of “strategic political support” and this is Clark ‘s MO, first and foremost, attacking at the interpersonal level, attacking the establishment (in this case the National Library’s longtime accreditation to Thomas J. Nevin) until they incorporate her.

Ignored by Clark is historiography of the problem. The root of the notion that A.H. Boyd had any relationship with photography arose from a children’s story forwarded to the Crowther Collection at the State Library of Tasmania in 1942 by its author, Edith Hall, a niece of A.H. Boyd. It was NEVER published, and exists only as a typed story, called “The Young Explorer.” Edith Hall claimed in an accompanying letter, dated 1942 and addressed to Dr Crowther that a man she calls the “Chief” in the story was her uncle A.H. Boyd, and that he was “always on the lookout for sitters“. Hopeful Chief! The imaginative Edith and her description of a room where the child protagonist was photographed (and rewarded for it) hardly accords with a set-up for police photography. The so-called “room” set up as a studio is an archeological fiction now in print as a full-blown fantasy (Clark, JACHS 2010): originally, it was a building constructed in 1865, by an earlier official, Commandant James Boyd (presumed to be no relative of A.H. Boyd) as the Literary Institute for officers and families, of which James Boyd was the founder and president. By the 1890s, this “room” may well have functioned as a place where tourists were photographed, but it was never constructed by A.H. Boyd as a photographic studio designated for the production of prisoner mugshots.

The photographing of prisoners IS NOT mentioned in either the story or the letter by Edith Hall. In the context of the whole story, only three pages in length, this statement is just another in a long list of imaginative and nostalgic fictions intended to give the child reader a “taste” of old Port Arthur, when both the author and her readers by 1942 were at a considerable remove in time. Boyd is not mentioned by name in the story, yet Clark (and before her, Warwick Reeder 1995) actually cite this piece of fiction as if it contains statements of factual information. A.H. Boyd has never been documented in newspapers or validated in any government record of the day as either an amateur or official photographer..

Edith Hall 1942

E.M. Hall. The Young Explorer, typed script courtesy SLTAS
Photo © KLW NFC 2010 ARR

Click on images for readable version

“The Young Explorer” is a tale that has been misinterpreted as the witness account of a five year old when the fact of the matter is that it was orally delivered by a 62 year old woman in 1930 (?) to a literary society meeting, submitted to the Crowther Collection in 1942, and probably transcribed in typescript (again) at an even later date. It is a composite of general details that concord more with the Port Arthur of the 1920s than with the site during its operation in 1873. In short, it is FICTION.

The A.H. Boyd misattribution has wasted the time and effort of a generation with an interest in forensic and police photography. The stupidity of Clark and the personality politics of the National Library combined only ensures further waste.


See this article on the PARASITIC ATTRIBUTION to A.H. Boyd and other articles dealing with misattribution issues.