Prisoner Bewley TUCK can speak for himself

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

Anthony Trollope’s Port Arthur interviewee 1872

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 tender in prisons. … More Anthony Trollope’s Port Arthur interviewee 1872

Mugshots removed: Edward Searle’s album 1915

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