100 year‐old images of Sydney to become “modern classics”

Friday 5 October 2018

Extraordinary century‐old images of Sydney in transition will go on public display for the first time when the State Library of NSW’s major new galleries open to the public on Saturday 6 October.

When the Macpherson family’s collection of 688 glass‐plate negatives were gifted to the Library, it soon became clear to curator Margot Riley that these previously
unseen images of Sydney and NSW were “destined to become modern classics.”

“As we digitised the collection, transforming these shadowy glass‐plate negatives into positives, astonishing images of late 19th and early 20th century Sydney came to
life!” says Ms Riley.

The Macphersons were a family of gifted amateur photographers who turned their camera lens on the goings on in the city and surrounding suburbs, people on the street, at the beach and in the bush. In doing so they recorded Australia’s changing lifestyle over a 50‐year period.

“Through their surprisingly modern documentary style photography we see dramatic events unfolding around them, including early motor cars taking to the road, daytime swimming restrictions lifted and the introduction of swimwear, as well as the clearance of The Rocks area and the birth of tourist photography,” says Ms Riley.


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