Aboriginal woman with new born baby, Canning Stock Route, Western Australia
England, Australia, England
12 Dec 1906 - 05 Feb 1986
Though not born in Australia, Axel Poignant's work is largely about the 'Outback', its flora and fauna and the traditions of Australian and Indigenous identity. Poignant was born in Yorkshire in 1906 to a Swedish father and English mother, and arrived in Australia in 1926 seeking work and adventure. After tough early years of unemployment and homelessness, he eventually settled in Perth and found work as a portrait photographer, before taking to the road and the bush in search of new subjects. Poignant became fascinated with the photo-essay as a means of adding real humanity to the medium, and much of his work is in this form. The close relationships he developed with Aboriginal people on his travels are recorded in compassionate portraits of these people and their lives - the low angles and closely cropped frames appear more natural and relaxed than the stark compositions of earlier ethnographic photography.
Aboriginal girl with new born baby. Canning Stock Route, Western Australia
gelatin silver photograph
32.9 x 28.4 cm image; 44.5 x 38.0 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. sheet, pencil "Axel Poignant 1980". Dated l.c. sheet, pencil "...1942".
Not on display
© Courtesy Roslyn Poignant
Shown in 6 exhibitions
Axel Poignant: photographs 1922-1980, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Jul 1982–29 Aug 1982
A changing relationship: Aboriginal themes in Australian art, c.1938-1988, S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 08 Jun 1988–31 Jul 1988
Critic's Choice, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Apr 1994–10 Jul 1994
Referenced in 7 publications
Natasha Bullock, Australian postwar photodocumentary, Sydney, 2004. no catalogue numbers
Helen Ennis, Photography and Australia, London, 2007, 80 (illus.). fig.43, as 'Mary'
Josef Lebovic Gallery and Helen Ennis, Masterpieces of Australian Photography, Twentieth Century Photography, Sydney, 1989, 182, 183 (illus). cat.no. 326
Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994.
Gael Newton, Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Hal Missingham, Axel Poignant retrospective, Sydney, 1982, foreward (illus.). cat.no. 29
Gael Newton, Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980. plate no. 98
Rose Peel, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian postwar photo-documentary', pg.189-207, Sydney, 2007, 194.