Albion Street, Surry Hills
New Zealand, Australia
30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953
Albion Street is a classically pictorialist work, moving rapidly through graduations of mid to soft tones as the eye travels across and down the street scene. Cazneaux intervened in the printing process, accentuating the haze on the right-hand side of the street, and thus positioning the children as the image’s prominent subjects. Gael Newton argues that Cazneaux achieved an impression of spontaneity and animation in his work from the first decades of the twentieth century unrivalled by his contemporaries 1. The prominence of the window ledge in the left-hand side of the frame places the photographer as a non-intrusive observer to the children’s game.
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 2. 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. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 87
2. Ibid p 85
gelatin silver photograph
30.2 x 19.0 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the Cazneaux family 1990
Not on display
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Sep 2002–17 Nov 2002
Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Jun 2008–10 Aug 2008
Referenced in 3 publications
Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Sydney, 2008.
Look, Sydney, Jun 2008, 31 (illus.).
Soft shadows and sharp lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Sydney, 2002. no pagination or catalogue numbers