Pulletop and Thornthwaite: Photography, Taste and Class Mobility in 19th Century New South Wales

Peck, Julia (2011) Pulletop and Thornthwaite: Photography, Taste and Class Mobility in 19th Century New South Wales. In: Changing the Subject, 2nd - 4th February 2011, Adelaide, South Australia. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper will explore how two different photographic accounts of working landscapes in nineteenth-century New South Wales reveal changing social identities and preferences for cultural artefacts between 1860 and the mid 1890s. Joseph and Ernest Docker’s photographs of their own property (c. 1860-1869) disavow details of labour and land productivity in favour of producing picturesque landscape photographs. Both Dockers were educated amateurs, producing delicate, hand-made photographs demonstrating their cultural sophistication. The photographs of Pulletop Station (c. 1886-1891), in contrast, celebrate conspicuous leisure, depict employed labour and articulate class relations. The owner, Edmund Westby, commissioned the photographs to celebrate the productivity and cultural refinements of the property (including photographs of the garden and the broader landscape). The photographer, Charles Bayliss, was a commercial views photographer based in Sydney: the cultural depiction of the landscape, as well as the labour that made the economics of the landscape possible, is passed to skilled operators. Shunning a traditional painted commission, Westby’s interest in a photographic celebration of the landscape suggests that he was concerned with new representational forms, creating a link between his economic and social mobility and the means by which it was represented. The explicit visualisation of leisure and class relations in the later photographs of Pulletop arguably reveal how Westby was able to position himself within a social elite associated with the formation of an identifiable Australian social hierarchy. Significantly, the exposure of class relations was not distasteful him, creating a record of changing tastes in the landscape photography specific to Australia.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Joseph Docker, Ernest Docker, Charles Bayliss, Pastoral Properties, Pulletop, Thornthwaite
Related URLs:
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Art and Design > Photography
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Julia Peck
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2016 09:23
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2017 00:21
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3289

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