Scenes of Victorian and Edwardian life

Sylvia howling

‘Aurora Australis or Sylvia howling’ – Sylvia Fell photographed in 1891, Charles Fell album; Alexander Turnbull Library Ref: PA1-q-075-22-1

In my NZ Edwardian Photo Albums – Part 3 post I said I had recently looked at six photograph albums in the collection of Alexander Turnbull Library here in Wellington. This was part of my attempt to compare Sid Small’s album (Ref: PA1-o-1382) – which I used to own – with some other albums from around the same period (c. 1905/6) or that showed the types of casual scenes that his album includes. My previous post on Richard Seddon’s trip to the west coast, 1906 covered three of the albums – all travelogues; this post covers the remaining two photo albums. Continue reading


Richard Seddon’s visit to the west coast, 1906

Last week I attended a National Digital Forum (a two day conference in Wellington, mostly on digital heritage) – I was a volunteer helper who went where needed, but I heard some interesting papers. One was about a game played via Twitter that Auckland Museum set up with a few other institutions. Over a couple of days each institution posted a clue with a photo of an object from their collection and people had to guess what the theme was. So here are a few objects – what’s the theme? Continue reading

New Zealand Edwardian photo albums – part 3

DSC07521  DSC07522

In my first post on this topic (A NZ Edwardian Photo album) I looked at an album that used to be in my possession but is now in the Turnbull Library – the photos were taken by Sidney Small, who compiled the album and gifted it to my grandparents Walter and Winifred Morrell in 1906. Continue reading

Art pilgrimage – part two


After writing my earlier Art and Literature ‘pilgrimages’ post I found I had more of an archive on my ‘art pilgrimage’ than I thought. In addition to two photo albums, I also found a visual diary, with photos, postcards and text (some I copied from the travel diary I kept on the trip) and an album of postcards. This seems excessive in hindsight, but the trip was a turning point in terms of my art history studies. Prior to the trip I had studied some art history at secondary school level; I had been to various art history continuing education classes, and once I decided to go on the tour I enrolled in the Victoria University second-year level course on Modernism. But within a year after this trip I had resigned from permanent employment in the public service and soon enrolled in more university courses – eventually completing a Master of Arts in art history.

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Art and literature ‘pilgrimages’

Chekhov & MatisseAmerican writer Janet Malcolm in her book Reading Chekhov describes going to Yalta (in Russia on the Black Sea), following in Russian author Anton Chekhov’s footsteps. She sits on a bench looking at the view that characters in his short story ‘Lady with the Dog’ (1899) looked at. She says: “I am a character in a new drama: the absurdist farce of the literary pilgrim who leaves the magical pages of a work of genius and travels to an ‘original scene’ that can only fall short of his expectations.” (p. 4)[1]

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New Zealand Edwardian Photo Album – part two

In my earlier post I said that I liked the Read family album (1905/6) for its casual shots – a picnic, paddling in the sea, ‘crossing a brook’ in the bush – and wondered if this was unusual for an album of that time.

I’ve since done a little more research, by searching the National Library of New Zealand catalogue. I haven’t looked at any albums so most of this research relates to images that are available online or described, so it wasn’t a comprehensive search, but gives some comparisons with the Read family album. I probably have to conclude that by 1905 when Sid Small took the casual photographs in the Read album, it wasn’t such unusual subject matter after all. Continue reading

A New Zealand Edwardian Photo Album

3graces “The three graces, 1905”

The photographer was Sidney Small, born in Cardiff, Wales, aged 37 when he married in 1916, so born about 1879. The three women were sisters – Winifred, Evelyn and Violet Read of Whanganui, New Zealand. Winifred was to become my grandmother. Sid wanted to marry Evelyn, but she was 10 years younger than him (in the photo she’s about 16), and her family were opposed at that time, so Sid went to the UK for a few years – from 1907 to about 1911. Continue reading