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85/1284-752 Glass plate negative, full plate, 'Packing Cream on the Dorrigo', Kerry and Co, Sydney, Australia, c. 1905-1917. Click to enlarge.

‘Packing Cream on the Dorrigo’ by Kerry and Co

Made
Rich volcanic soils and relatively high rainfall make the Dorrigo Plateau in northern NSW perfect for dairy farming. European settlers arrived there in the 1860s but it was not until 1875 that dairying became really viable. In that year Thomas Mort and Eugene Nicolle developed refrigerated railway vans for milk, enabling dairy products to travel to distant markets.

Around 1900 when this photo was taken large tracts of timber reserves were opened up for farming on the Dorrigo Plateau and a number of dairy farms were established in the area. Dairy farmers on the Dorrigo Plateau took their cream on horseback to the butter factory in Bellingen. It was processed there, then sent to Brisbane or Sydney by rail or ship. By 1906 the town of Dorrigo had its own butter factory.

Sandra McEwen, Curatorial, 2008

This photographic negative was probably taken by George Bell who worked for the Sydney based company of Charles Kerry and Co. George Bell was employed by the Sydney firm of Kerry and Co. in 1890, and the work he produced over the following ten years, stands amongst the best of this period. Bell's pictures transcended hackneyed journalistic records of people and places, and his best photos, contain a lyrical quality, at odds with the demands of journalistic realism. Between 1890 and 1900 Bell, not only honed his craft, he produced many of his most memorable images. Among the best of these are 'Pioneers', 'On the Road to Dorrigo', 'The Farmers Daughter', 'Rounding Up', and perhaps his best known, 'The Waterbag' or 'Halt for refreshment'. In 1900 he left Kerry's studio, taking up a position as photo-journalist at the Sydney Mail newspaper.

This photographic negative was published by the Sydney firm Charles Kerry & Co. and is part of the Powerhouse Museum's Tyrrell collection which contains over 2,900 glass plate negatives by Kerry & Co. Although a few appear to be from the 1880s most were produced between 1892 and 1917. Over this period, and well into the early 1900s, prints from these negatives appeared in many Australian publications and albums of views. In 1903 the company began producing postcards from these negatives, further establishing the images as some of the most significant and best known early views of New South Wales.

Some of the more significant themes covered by the collection include; views of New South Wales, Queensland, country towns, Sydney, Indigenous Australians, the South Pacific, rural life, native flora and fauna, and sentimental views. In addition there are a number of significant events from the 1900s covered by the collection including; Embarkation of troops for the Boer War, Hordens fire and the Inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901, the arrival of the Great White Fleet and the Burns verses Johnson boxing match at Rushcutters Bay in 1908.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, November 2008

References
David, Millar, Charles Kerry's Federation Australia, Sydney, David Ell Press, 1981
Valdon, 'Our Artistic Workers; Mr. George Bell', Australian Photographic Journal, Volume 17, Number 199, December 21, 1908

Summary

Object No.

85/1284-752

Object Statement

Glass plate negative, full plate, 'Packing Cream on the Dorrigo', Kerry and Co, Sydney, Australia, c. 1905-1917

Physical Description

Glass negative, full plate, 'Packing Cream on the Dorrigo', Kerry and Co, Sydney, Australia, c. 1905-1917.

Silver gelatin dry plate glass negative in landscape format. The image depicts a scene on a dirt track in the Dorrigo area of New South Wales. The dirt track is depicted in the centre of the image extending from the foreground into the background of the image. Two horses can be seen on the track in the centre of the image. Both of the horses are saddled and one is being ridden by a young man, he is holding the reins to the second horse which is laden with cream tins. The track is surrounded by forest vegetation including ferns, bushes, tall stands of trees and birdsnest ferns. The caption, studio number and studio mark are inscribed on the reverse of the negative.

54/53 Tyrrell Inventory Number, 1537 Kerry Studio Number

Marks

Caption, studio number and studio mark on plate emulsion verso lower centre, inscribed by hand in reverse print in ink 'PACKING CREAM / ON THE DORRIGO. / 1537. Kerry. Sydney.'
Inscription in plate emulsion verso upper left corner, scratched by hand '1537' and top right, scratched by hand 'Dorrigo'.

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

'Packing Cream on the Dorrigo' by Kerry and Co 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 September 2020, <https://ma.as/30181>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/30181 |title='Packing Cream on the Dorrigo' by Kerry and Co |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}