Posts written by Lissa Mitchell

Out of our minds – Watkins, Didion and the Malakoff Diggins

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  Despite their age Carleton Watkins’ photographs have an enduring appeal. Their large scale and simple beauty makes them stand out amongst the vast array of nineteenth century landscape photographs. Often Watkins’ photographs don’t simply document or show facts – they disorient our sense of identity and place in front of a scene. Sometimes finding… Read more »

Curious: Martinho Lowande – ‘the Great Brazilian Bareback Hurricane rider’

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This studio portrait by Melbourne photographer Arthur Burman, shows Martinho Lowande and his sons dressed in their performance outfits and was taken just prior to their performances in New Zealand. Lowande, billed as the ‘Great Brazilian Bareback Hurricane rider’, performed bareback horse riding stunts while supporting either one of his two sons (aged 4 and 7 years). The… Read more »

Curious: Miss Matilda Sanville – the smallest lady in the world

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This portrait of Matilda Sanville – the smallest lady in the world (also known as ‘the Fairy Queen’) – was taken in Sydney in 1875 in connection with her appearances in the city and before her tour to New Zealand. The portrait uses known studio portrait conventions of the time to convey Sanville’s size (a… Read more »

More Macey – recent photography acquisitions

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Te Papa recently acquired more cabinet card photographs by Blenheim photographer, William H. Macey. Macey’s photographs are a great example of the strength of photography occurring in the regional centres of New Zealand during the late nineteenth century and up to World War I. You can read more about Macey and see more of his… Read more »

Cold comfort photography

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 It is the beginning of June in New Zealand and if you are a photographer it is the perfect time to go camping. Despite the dire warnings from his friend (referred to as ‘Titfaddle’) concerning the folly of making a six week camping trip in the middle of winter, Alfred Burton and his son Harold, left Dunedin for Lakes Te Anau and… Read more »

On getting in touch about family photographs

Edward and Sarah Corner, Frank Sutcliffe (UK), 1901, cabinet card, courtesy of Ann McDonald.

  One of the nicest things about having so much of Te Papa’s photography collection online is when people write in to say that we hold a photograph of some of their ancestors and are able to identify the people in the photographs. Until recently this large framed photograph of the Read family (above) was… Read more »

Autochromes from the Te Papa collection

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Te Papa’s beautiful collection of early colour photographs made using the autochrome process is the focus of new article published by the online journal The Public Domain Review. The article can be accessed on either The Public Domain Review or OpenGlam. Lissa Mitchell – Curator Historical Documentary Photography More Photography? Follow Lissa on Twitter

Photography and Te Papa in 2014

O.31243 Bill Gamble & his festive bottle

I have a confession: I am a bit of a vampire of sorts. I feed on Te Papa’s Photography collection – I use it to think and process ideas, to research and to write. Over the last year I have focused on what I believe counts: connections between photography and small stories about people and places, especially in the… Read more »