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85/1284-141 Glass plate negative, full plate, 'Washing Wool', Kerry and Co, Sydney, Australia, c. 1884-1917. Click to enlarge.

Glass plate negative

Made
This photo shows wool being washed at Enngonia Bore, near Bourke, New South Wales. In the dusty outback of NSW, dirt can make up more than half the weight of a sheep's fleece. Farmers once washed sheep in rivers and pools before shearing them. Without the dirt, the fleece became more attractive to buyers and cheaper to transport.

When sheep were first introduced to Australia, the sheep were washed before being shorn. By 1840, wool was being washed after it was removed from the sheep. Many …

Summary

Object No.

85/1284-141

Object Statement

Glass plate negative, full plate, 'Washing Wool', Kerry and Co, Sydney, Australia, c. 1884-1917

Physical Description

Silver gelatin dry plate glass negative in landscape format. The image depicts wool being washed after shearing. The wooden washing or scouring area is depicted in the centre of the image. This area is located outside a woolshed. Three Chinese men are depicted washing or scouring the wool. They are using long wooden handled forks to scour the wool in vats of water. The wool is then being scooped out into piles on a wooden deck in the scouring area. A system of pipes can be seen behind the men leading to the vats. Two young boys can be seen in the background of the image, they are looking towards the scouring area. Trees, farm buildings and a sheepdog are also depicted in the background of the image. The caption, studio number and studio mark are inscribed on the reverse of the negative.

49/25 Tyrrell Inventory Number, 222 Kerry Studio Number

Marks

Caption, studio number and studio mark on plate emulsion verso lower left corner, inscribed by hand in reverse print in ink 'WASHING WOOL. / 222. Kerry. / Sydney.'
Inscription in plate emulsion verso top edge, scratched by hand '222'.

Dimensions

Width

215 mm

Production

Notes

Charles Kerry was born in 1858 and by 1885 was running a studio in partnership with C. D. Jones. This partnership lasted until 1892, when Charles became sole owner and changed the studio's name to Kerry and Co.

By 1890 the company was employing a number of photographers who would become famous in their own right. George Bell who covered rural New South Wales was employed in 1890 and Harold Bradley was doing outdoor work and covering events around Sydney by 1899.

Kerry continued to work in the field and in 1895 he took photographs of Royal National Park for New South Wales Government, photographed Queensland artesian bores and was employed by the New South Wales Government to travel the state and photograph Indigenous Australians. In 1897 Kerry led the first party to reach the summit of Mt Kosciuszko in winter conditions and photographed the Jenolan caves.

By 1900 Kerry had turned his studio into one of the largest and most respected photographic establishments in the colony. His new four story premises at 310 George St were designed by the architect H. C. Kent and the third floor studios alone could accommodate 70 people wanting their portraits taken.

In 1913 Kerry retired leaving the running of the studio to his nephew, unfortunately the business did not do well and Kerry and Co. closed its doors in 1917. Kerry himself died in 1928.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, January, 2009

References
Newton, Gael, Shades of Light; Photography and Australia 1839 - 1988, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1988
David, Millar, Charles Kerry's Federation Australia, Sydney, David Ell Press, 1981
Tyrrell, James, Australian Aboriginal and South Sea Islands Implements, Weapons and Curios, James Tyrrell, Sydney, 1929

History

Notes

This photographic negative is one of 2900 Kerry & Co. photographs in the Powerhouse Museum's 'Tyrrell Collection' once owned by Sydney bookseller, James Tyrrell. Almost all of these negatives are 21.5 x 20.3 cm (10 x 8 inch) glass plates and many of those now held by the Powerhouse Museum collection would have been used to create postcards. In addition to the Kerry & Co. Studio images, the Tyrrell Collection at the Powerhouse Museum includes glass plate negatives published by Henry King and a number of other negatives by unattributed photographers

James Tyrrell used the images by Kerry & Co. and Henry King to produce his own booklets and views of New South Wales but although full of iconic Australian images, the collection does not appear to have been fully utilised by Tyrrell.

In 1980 the collection was purchased by Australian Consolidated Press who published a limited series of 2000 contact prints from the collection. Housed in boxes copies of these were given to the State Library of New South Wales and the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney.

In 1985 Australian Consolidated Press donated the collection to the Powerhouse keeping a set of copy prints for themselves. The collection at this time consisted of 7,903 glass plate negatives and 7,916 contact positive prints. Of these 493 glass plates were damaged but usable and 13 plates totally broken.

A further 2,500 Kerry & Co. negatives are held in the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, January, 2009

References
Newton, Gael, Shades of Light; Photography and Australia 1839 - 1988, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1988
David, Millar, Charles Kerry's Federation Australia, Sydney, David Ell Press, 1981
Tyrrell, James, Australian Aboriginal and South Sea Islands Implements, Weapons and Curios, James Tyrrell, Sydney, 1929

Cite this Object

Harvard

Glass plate negative 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 September 2021, <https://ma.as/27991>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/27991 |title=Glass plate negative |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=27 September 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}