We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


The rabbit trapper

circa 1947


David Potts


22 Jul 1926 – 2012

  • Details

    circa 1947
    Media category
    Materials used
    gelatin silver photograph, vintage
    47.1 x 31.1 cm image/sheet
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of the artist 1980
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © David Potts

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    David Potts

    Works in the collection


  • About

    David Potts was recognised early in his career as a perceptive observer of society with an ability to capture the essential mood of a situation. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1944 and following war service trained in photography under the Repatriation Scheme. After working in the Department of Medical Illustration at the University of Sydney he began work in the Russell Roberts photographic studio which concentrated on fashion and commercial work. ‘The rabbit trapper’ has become David Potts’s iconic image of Australian bush life, taken in Dorrigo, on assignment for a magazine article.

    Dorrigo in northern New South Wales, rich in rainforest timber during the 19th century, was later cleared for dairy farms. The proliferation of rabbits and their destruction of country was particularly hard felt by farmers during the 1930s and 1940s. The Depression forced people to trap rather than shoot rabbits which were then sold for meat or pelts. The processed fur felt formed another Australian icon – the Akubra, made famous by the Diggers’ slouch hats, country men and it appears – rabbit trappers. This intimate portrait captures a man who listens and yarns, hat pushed off his forehead as he leans against the stove, relaxed in his kitchen. The utensils hanging on the wall imply the rabbit trapper is more than just a cook of rabbit stew, making pastry, grates, skims and beats. The backlighting of the figure captures the weathered wrinkled face, but as he engages with someone to his left in his simple room it is his eyes that become the singular feature. The watcher is being watched.

    © Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 5 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 6 publications

Other works by David Potts

See all 51 works