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Title

Old High School, Castlereagh St

circa 1920


Artist

Harold Cazneaux

New Zealand, Australia

30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953


About

This is a crisp shot of the entrance to the old Sydney Girls High School building on Castlereagh Street. The structure was demolished in 1922, when the school was relocated to Surry Hills, and replaced with the David Jones department store 1. Cazneaux’s depiction communicates a sense of vacancy with an absence of movement or life beyond the open-standing gates.
Harold Cazneaux was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1878. His parents, Pierce Mott Cazneau and Emma Florence (née Bentley) worked in commercial studios in New Zealand before returning to settle permanently in Adelaide during the early 1890s. At the age of 18 Cazneaux went to work alongside his father at Hammer & Co studio as a retoucher. He moved to Sydney in 1904 to join the larger portrait firm, Freeman’s quickly ascending to the position of ‘chief operator’ (as camera portraitists were known). Studio work was highly formulaic, with little scope for creativity. Cazneaux used his time walking to and from work to experiment with pictorialist aesthetics 1. The Photographic Society of New South Wales organised an exhibition of Cazneaux’s photographs in 1909, the first such solo exhibition of its kind in Australia. In 1916 he and fellow pictorialist photographer, Cecil Bostock founded the Sydney Camera Circle. The group was particularly interested in the how pictorialism could be adapted to and extended within an Australian context. The mechanised, standardised and frenetic pace of Freeman’s increasingly took its toll on Cazneaux’s creativity and health, and he resigned in 1917. He moved with his wife and daughters to the Sydney suburb of Roseville, and in 1920 he was employed as the official photographer for The Home magazine. This new position let him work in a varied indoor and outdoor environments. In 1938 Cazneaux was awarded an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of London. He continued to work until his death in 1953.
1. The Old School; In the Hands of Demolishers; Relics of the Early Days, ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, 22 August 1922 p 8
2. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85


Details


Other Title

Old High School


Alternative title

Old Girl's High School, Castlereagh St


Date

circa 1920


Media category

Photograph


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


Dimensions

24.6 x 12.5 cm image/sheet; 25.6 x 13.2 cm card


Signature & date

Signed c. verso card and l.r. original mount, pencil "H. Cazneaux". Not dated.


Credit

Gift of Iris Burke in memory of Keast Burke 1978


Location

Not on display


Accession number

24.1978


Artist information

Harold Cazneaux

Works in the collection

170


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


Referenced in 2 publications

Bibliography