In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I love old photographs – of anything really, but especially of strangers in fashions of the past. As I entered the Museum of Sydney’s newest exhibition An Edwardian Summer, therefore, I was ready to be pleased. Thankfully, there was plenty to be pleased about. An Edwardian Summer is a cleverly curated photographic exhibition of the myriad work of Arthur Wigram Allen – solicitor, aviator, photographer, and son of one of Sydney’s oldest families. It seems Allen was a man of many talents, and his photography is no exception. The pictures cover an era of exponential growth in Australia. But it’s not just their historical interest that makes this collection worth a look – the pictures are candid, well-framed and have a spontaneity and youth fitting to the veritable birth of a nation. Contextualised with paintings from significant Australian artists of the time (including Arthur Streeton, Rupert Bunny, Grace Cossington Smith and Penleigh Boyd), An Edwardian Summer paints a fascinating picture of the sporting, social, technological and working life of Australians at the turn of the century.
For the diary: Join co-curators Howard Tanner, Judith Ainge and Alan Davies for a special after-hours event exploring this exciting exhibition on February 2nd, from 6.30pm.
Until April 26, Museum of Sydney, cnr Bridge & Phillip Streets, Sydney,$5-20, 8239 2211, hht.net.au