Between 1868 and 1875, a total number of persons convicted in the Superior Courts was one thousand and eighty-eight (1,088). Contracted by the Attorney-General W. R. Giblin in February 1872, commercial photographer Thomas J. Nevin began the systematic photographic documentation of prisoners tried at the Supreme Court Hobart and committed at the adjoining Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street. Further refining the time span when photography was introduced as a means of police surveillance: from 1871 to 1875, the total number of persons convicted in the Superior Courts totalled three hundred and forty-three (343). The mugshots of those who were photographed by T. J. Nevin in this last group of males – more than 300 – survive in public collections today for TWO principal reasons: … More Tasmanian crime statistics 1866-1875
This Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery notice about their photographic collections appeared in November 2006. It is now September 2010, and the promised website with viewable databases of their vast photographic holdings is still not up and running. The TMAG holds a sizable collection of rare works by Thomas J. Nevin, including 1860s stereographs, studio portraits of private clientele, and mugshots of “convicts” taken in the 1870s. … More Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holdings
A. H. Boyd had no reputation in his own lifetime as a photographer, none subsequently, and no works by him are extant, yet he suddenly entered photo history as an “artist” in 1995 due largely to a sentence in a children’s fictional tale, and a cargo list. Thomas J. Nevin, well-known within his lifetime as a contractual commercial photographer, civil servant, and special constable with the Municipal and Territorial Police, and with a sizeable legacy dating from the 1860s held in State, National and private collections, was effectively dismissed as a “copyist” by Chris Long. Authoritative commentators who were aware of the problem ensured Chris Long was named as someone in error on this matter when Nevin’s biographical details were published in 1992 ( Willis, Kerr, Stilwell, Neville, etc). … More About those photographic glasses 1873 …
Read this article by Carolyn Strange in which she points to the fictionalisation of the past as the dominant modality of museological practice at the Port Arthur Historic Site. Convict Bewley Tuck’s fictive “voice-over” tale stands in for a new “interpretative” identity between museum and tourist. Thomas Nevin’s photograph of Tuck (ca. 1870), however, is not a construct but an artefact of the convict’s reality as both convict and photographer experienced it. A documentary original photograph is not the same thing at all as a contemporary “interpretation” of it. As one visitor remarked to Strange on leaving the display, “I prefer the real thing.” … More Prisoner Bewley TUCK can speak for himself
The DAAO specifically states at this URL – http://www.daao.org.au/intro/about.html – that a person eligible for inclusion should meet these criteria:
Who classifies as an Australian Artist?
An Australian artist is defined as a person, living or dead, who:
— has a body of artistic work
— considers themselves to be an artist
— is considered by others to be an artist
— is a resident or citizen or is known as an Australian.
A.H. Boyd was NOT a photographer, NOT an Australian artist, NOT considered by himself or by others in his lifetime or subsequently to be classified as one, so WHY is the entry here in the DAAO? … More The A.H. Boyd misattribution at DAAO
PERSONAL: – Mr Alfred Bock, writing from Auburn, Victoria, intimates that he is not dead, neither is he “the late Mr. Bock”, as stated in a note under a picture of the late Mr Boyd in a recent copy of “The Tasmanian Mail.” He adds:- “I suppose by the ‘late Mr. Bock’ it means to refer to my father, but he never took a photograph in his life. The picture was actually taken by me on the occasion of my visiting Port Arthur at the request on the officers of the station for the purpose of painting a portrait of Mr Boyd for presentation to that gentleman; I think about 1863 or 1864; I am not quite sure as to the year. I should be glad if you could make the correction, especially as some of my friends have been inquiring about my decease.
… More Alfred Bock & Thomas Nevin at Port Arthur 1860s
An early pioneer of dark tourism, William Radcliffe published a guide to the ruins of the Port Arthur prison site in the 1930s with photographs by John Watt Beattie taken in the early 1900s. The shame of convict heritage, a keenly felt stigma of the times, required concealment of real names. On page 25, he advised:
In consideration of relatives who may be living, the actual names have been omitted. If any doubt of the facts is occasioned in any way, the records may be seen on application at my museum at Port Arthur. … More The Old Curiosity Shop, Port Arthur, Tasman Peninsula
The Bulletin journalist had no doubt about the name of the photographer, although s/he assumed T. J. Nevin was an amateur, not a professional, working with a “flashlight and pan” at Port Arthur. S/he assumed too that Nevin recorded the convict’s name as he was being photographed – “they gave Nevin the wrong names when asked ” – and that “those convicts whose photographs remain were all serving long terms”. The unstated inference is that Nevin then wrote the convict’s name on the verso of the prisoner’s cdv, but that is very unlikely in the first instance, since the prisoner’s original identification mugshot was pasted to his criminal record (gaol rap sheet). The numbering on all of these extant cdvs of Tasmanian prisoners photographed in the 1870s was the work of 20th century archivists, whether by John Watt Beattie in the early 1900s at his “Port Arthur Museum” in Hobart, or by curators of exhibitions at the QVMAG in the years 1930s, 1970s, and 1980s … More Prisoner Charles BROWN aka Wm FORSTER: The Bulletin, May 16, 1978
The allegations of nepotism and corruption made in the Tasmanian Parliament in July 1873 centred squarely on the Opposition Leader and member for Central Hobart, W.R. Giblin who had occupied the portfolio of Attorney-General in the previous government, and his brother-in-law, the Commandant of Port Arthur, Adolarious Humphrey Boyd. … More Nepotism, corruption and Port Arthur 1873
Anthony Trollope was accompanied by the Tasmanian Premier, the Hon. J.M. Wilson, and two lawyers: the Victorian Solicitor-General Howard Spensly and the Tasmanian Attorney-General W.R. Giblin. Also in the party at the request of W.R. Giblin was photographer Thomas J. Nevin. Giblin had acted as Nevin’s family solicitor since the dissolution of the firm Nevin & Smith in 1868. The Victorian Solicitor-General’s interest in prison security at Port Arthur extended to suggesting the photographing of prisoners by commercial photographers. In South Australia and Victoria, commercial photographers such as Frazer Crawford and Charles Nettleton respectively were engaged part-time on contract in prisons. … More Anthony Trollope’s Port Arthur interviewee 1872
The National Library of Australia holds an album titled Tasmanian Views, catalogued in Searle’s name and dated ca. 1915. The album contains a series of contemporary snapshots taken of the Searle family while visiting the Tasman Peninsula, Maria Island, Norfolk Island, and New Norfolk, possibly accompanying Beattie on his various and highly productive photographic excursions. The family photographs are mixed in no particular order with scenic postcards bearing Beattie’s trademark, views and portraits of Antarctic expeditions, and reprints of 1860s-1870s photographs representing Tasmania’s troubled convict and Aboriginal past, all of which Beattie and Searle supplied in quantity for the 1900s tourist market, The inclusion of many family photographs in this album suggests it was intended for private viewing rather than public display, put together by Searle for his family as a memento of his four years’ employment at Beattie’s studio. … More Mugshots removed: Edward Searle’s album 1915
The notice below was published in Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac in 1873, at a time when the Port Arthur prison site on the Tasman Peninsula, 60 kms from Hobart, was still in operation. The traveller from Hobart faced a frequently interrupted, long and uncomfortable journey, alternating between road and sea transport and an overnight hotel stay. … More The journey from Hobart to Port Arthur 1873-4
Isobel Crombie’s book, Body Culture: Max Dupain, Photography and Australian Culture, 1919-1939, published by the National Gallery of Victoria (2004) includes this original photograph of a Tasmanian prisoner taken by government contractor and professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin, dated 1874, with misattribution to the Port Arthur Commandant A. H .Boyd on page 39. In a discussion which lies outside the dates of the book’s title, Isobel Crombie attributes this carte-de-visite of convict Henry Smith per Rodney 2 to A. H. Boyd, an accountant promoted through nepotism to the position of Commandant of the Port Arthur prison site, a position he held until forced to resign in December 1873. A. H. Boyd had no reputation in his lifetime as a photographer, and no works in any genre by him are extant. … More How misattribution can persist