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Victoriana - A Journey in Photography 1837 to 1901 + Book, curated by Stephen Thompson

Victoriana Sydney 1837-1901: A Journey in Photography  by Stephen Thompson

During the reign of Queen Victoria between 1837 and 1901, Sydney grew from a small Georgian town to a bustling economic hub, funnelling resources and wealth back to London. It was a place of contrasts – unsealed roads, windmills, splendid villas, slums and tenements, bustling crowds and grand colonial buildings. And it was all captured by the photographers of 19th century Sydney, whose evocative images provide an incredible portrait of the city in the Victorian era.

The large glass-plate negatives these photographers left behind will be reproduced in spectacular detail as A1 silver halide prints in this exhibition and the accompanying book, published by Anchor Books. A group of school children beam at the camera during an excursion to the pristine sands of Bondi Beach in 1891. Spontaneous snapshots of people on the streets, family portraits and mementos capture the daily lives of Sydneysiders, the pristine harbour and the grandeur of the Blue Mountains. The images are artefacts left by people with a Sherlock Holmes - style fascination with science, technology, knowledge, reform and progress coupled with unfaltering confidence, resourcefulness and imagination.

The glass plate negatives that created these prints are high-resolution, large and clear. The fragility of glass and the passing of time have added a patina of age to the images - of being artefacts themselves. Cracks, breakages, chips, and patina of flaking emulsion of silver salts remind us they are objects that are up to 150 years old. The combination of their high resolution with their evocations of history and age gives a sense of physical connection to the people of Victorian Sydney that spans the centuries in these prints.

The new A1 high-resolution photographic silver halide, limited and editioned photographs offered in this exhibition are rarely seen together and a must for lovers of Victoriana and photography.


Stephen Thompson is a published author, curator and heritage specialist with over 20 years experience in the cultural and heritage sector. Stephen has published many books, essays and web exhibitions on Australian history and heritage. He was educated at East Sydney Technical Collage, The University of NSW and The University of Sydney and lives and works in Katoomba, NSW.


Victoriana - A Journey in Photography, (the book), is available for purchase at our Katoomba gallery and retails for $34.95

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