(New Zealand, Australia 1878–1953)
28.1 x 33.1cm image/sheet; 30.0 x 34.7cm card
Cazneaux called this photograph his ‘most Australian picture’.1 It was done at a time when he was concentrating on capturing the Australian landscape, travelling extensively throughout New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. He made three visits to the Flinders Ranges, where Hans Heysen had painted and Frederick A Joyner had photographed during the 1920s and 1930s. Heysen wrote of the difficulty in capturing the landscape, with its ‘clear space’ and ‘no thickness of atmosphere between you and the objects’.2 Cazneaux managed to achieve this by focusing on a single subject, often a weathered gum, which he would shoot from below, sharply delineating it from a tonal, receding landscape. In works like ‘Spirit of endurance’ and ‘Hollow gum’ he manages to capture the sense of light, heat and distance in the ranges. As his titles suggest, these images of trees still showing signs of life despite wound-like cracks, are meant to be read symbolically. The tree has been a recurrent symbol of human resilience. William Moore, author of the first dictionary of Australian art, described one in a photograph by John Eaton: ‘like an idealist who survives the buffetings of a callous world, the ti-tree preserves the witchery of its line in spite of the turbulence of intermittent storms.’3 Cazneaux flipped the negative he shot of this tree in the enlarger as he felt it best expressed what he was after in the final image. The tree still stands at Wilpena where it is now known as the Cazneaux tree.
1. Dupain M 1978, ‘Cazneaux: photographs by Harold Cazneaux 1878–1953’, National Library of Australia, Canberra p 88
2. Thiele C 1968, ‘Heysen of Hahndorf’, Rigby, Adelaide p 196
3. Moore W 1924, ‘The Salon Pictures’, ‘Australasian Photo-Review’, 15 May, p 244
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
'Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography' by Natasha Bullock, pg.28-31, Look Jun 2008, Jun 2008, 31.
Natasha Bullock (Australia) (Author), Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, 2008.
7079 (Editor), Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 2007, 90 (illus.).
Helen Ennis (Australia) (Author), Photography and Australia, London, 2007, 64 (colour illus.).
Natasha Bullock (Australia) (Curator), Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Domain, 2002. no catalogue numbers
Andrew Sayers (Australia, b.1957) (Author), Australian art, Oxford, 2001, 136 (illus.). plate no. 77
John McDonald (Australia, b.1961) (Author), Federation: Australian art and society 1901-2001, Canberra, 2000, 61 (illus.), 253.
Valerie Hill (Australia) (Author), The Cazneaux Women, St Leonards, 2000, 115.
Ross Mellick (Australia, b.1934) (Author), Nick Waterlow (Australia) (Author), Spirit and place: Art in Australia 1861-1996, Sydney, Nov 1996, 39 (illus.), 145.
Josef Lebovic Gallery (Australia, estab. 1977) (Author), Helen Ennis (Australia) (Author), Masterpieces of Australian Photography, Sydney, 1989, 138, 139 (illus.). cat.no. 240
Ursula Prunster (Australia) (Author), Seeing is believing: the art in photography, Sydney, 1985. cat.no. 10
Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Editor), Jan Meek (Australia) (Editor), Portrait of a Gallery, Sydney, 1984, 51 (illus.).
'Tangled forest of works inspire reflection and creativity' by Mark Hinderaker., The Sydney Morning Herald 06 Jan 1983, 06 Jan 1983, (illus.).
Gael Newton (Australia) (Author), Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980. plate no. 20
Gael Newton (Australia), Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, cover (illus.), 17, 24. cat.no. 30
Gael Newton (Australia) (Author), Project 7: Harold Cazneaux 1878 - 1953, Sydney, 1975. cat.no. 41
Project 7 - Harold Cazneaux: 1878 - 1953 (1975), Art Gallery of New South Wales, 30 Aug 1975–28 Sep 1975.
The Mechanical Eye: a history of photography, The Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, 28 Mar 1977–May 1977.
Australian Pictorial Photography, S.H. Ervin Gallery, 12 Jun 1979–08 Jul 1979.
Australian Pictorial Photography, The Victorian College of the Arts Gallery, 08 Aug 1979–31 Aug 1979.
Australian Pictorial Photography, Art Gallery of South Australia, 01 Dec 1979–30 Jan 1980.
The Christmas Tree Show, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 13 Nov 1982–09 Jan 1983.
Seeing is believing - the art in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 13 Dec 1985–19 Jan 1986.
Spirit and place: art in Australia 1861-1996, Museum of Contemporary Art, 21 Nov 1996–31 Mar 1997.
Federation: Australian art and society 1901-2001, National Gallery of Australia, 08 Dec 2000–11 Feb 2001.
Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 30 Sep 2002–17 Nov 2002.
Modernism/Japonism in photography 1920s-1940s: Ishida Kiichiro and the Sydney Camera Circle, Museum of Sydney, 20 Dec 2003–25 Apr 2004.
Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 05 Jun 2008–10 Aug 2008.