Around the corner
New Zealand, Australia
30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953
Around the corner first appeared the annual ‘Harrington’s Photographic Journal’ (previously known as the ‘Australian Photographic Journal’) in 1919. Leafy streetscapes with silhouetted subjects figure in notable images of Cazneaux’s from this decade, including A Surry Hills alleyway (1911) and Surry Hills (1911). Max Dupain wrote that Cazneaux’s pictures of inner city life were his most ‘photographic’ breaking with stereotypical pictorial scenes 1. Indeed, this image combines bright sunlight, quintessential to early twentieth century Australian photography, with dappled variegated shadow to illuminate and frame its humble pedestrian subject. Helen Ennis sees in Cazneaux’s work a quest to find the poetic in photographic practice, transporting the viewer from the pace and pressures of urban life into a slower landscape 2.
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 3. 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. Dupain M 1978, ‘Photographs by Harold Cazneaux, 1878-1953’, National Library of Australia, Canberra p xii
2. Ennis H 2007, ‘Photography and Australia’, Reaktion Books, London p 6
3. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85
gelatin silver photograph
22.5 x 30.3 cm image; 25.4 x 30.4 cm sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the Cazneaux family 1990
Not on display
Referenced in 1 publication
Editor Unknown (Editor), Harrington's Photographic Journal, Sydney, Oct 1919, (illus.).