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
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