Posts written by Lissa Mitchell

Shooting the Past – the photographic archive as subject

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    Recently I’ve been watching a BBC TV mini series about a doomed photography archive – Shooting the Past. The series was released in 1999 and I don’t know how I missed seeing it then but I was busy writing a dissertation on colonial photography (or maybe it didn’t even get played on TV here). The show… Read more »

Recent acquisition – ambrotype of a couple in front of a wall

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There is so much to admire about this beautiful ambrotype recently acquired for Te Papa’s photography collection – look at the couple’s cheeks touched up by hand in pink, their jewellery and clothing. I also like that the couple are posed in front of the photographer’s studio interior wall fitted with a dado rail (centre behind the couple’s chests) and panel… Read more »

1933/16 – an old acquisition of photographs

E. S. Richards, Original Post Office, Featherston Street, circa 1865,

  One of my favourite groups of photographs in the collection is a series of carte-de-visite prints all bound together by the number ‘1933/16′. From this number we know that this small group of photographs was the 16th group of objects acquired by the Dominion Museum in 1933. We also know that they were gifted by Mrs E. W…. Read more »

Where in Whanganui or thereabouts? A curator’s plea for help!

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I need your help to identify the buildings and locations in a small selection of early cartes-de-visite photographs which are mostly of Whanganui. These photographs were taken by William Harding who operated a long running photographic studio in the city in the second half of the 19th century. Some of these buildings may no longer exist but… Read more »

A very reuseable view – Muir and Moodie’s Whanganui River postcards

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A special part of Te Papa’s new rehang of Framing the View (part of Nga Toi Arts Te Papa on level 5 of the museum) is a photography feature on the Whanganui River’s ‘Drop Scene’. Here I want to share the journey of one image of the river taken by Dunedin photography studio, and postcard publishers, Muir &… Read more »

Official photographs and reading Herman Wollerman’s postcard

Takapau Divisional Camp 1914, photographic postcard, Hawke's Bay, by James Daroux, Te Papa PS.003297

Can you spot the arrow in the sky? This photographic postcard by photographer, James Daroux, was sent by Herman Wollerman to his father in Wellington from the Takapau Divisional training camp in the Hawkes’ Bay in May 1914. The camp was one of an annual series of training exercises organised by the New Zealand Territorial Forces from 1912 to… Read more »

No photographers in Revell Street?

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The novel The Luminaries is set in Hokitika in 1866 with most of the story taking place amongst a selection of businesses in Revell Street. The mystery is relayed, distorted and formed through different conservations and social interactions between the characters. However missing from the numerous businesses portrayed in the book is a photographic studio, and… Read more »

Highly sensitive – 19th August 175 years ago

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At 3pm on the 19th August 1839, a joint meeting of the Academie des Sciences and the Academie des Beaux-Arts, heard from the politician and scientist, François Arago, about the details of a process that produced unbelievably fine detail and extraordinarily subtle tonality. Louis Daguerre, who had been working on a light-sensitive process for about… Read more »