Summary

Photograph titled 'The Camp', from an album titled 'Sunny Memories at Riddells Creek', which documents a camping trip based at Riddells Creek, north west of Melbourne, 1911. The campers on this trip included Clarence, Daisy, Millicent, May (Mabel) and Margaret Keegan, Jim Smith, and James, Jean, Beryl, Charlie and Ronnie Phillips.

Clarence and Margaret Keegan would take a horse-drawn dray from Brunswick to Riddells Creek and would camp close to the Riddells Creek Hotel. Apparently the group would have to get off the dray when they got to the Bulla Hill, which was too steep for the horse otherwise. The dray used for this trip belonged to Sydney Road Coburg businessman Mr A (Adolphus?) Sproston, who hauled corn produce.

The album that contained this photograph features eight black and white photographs of the campsite and the campers: 'Meddlesome Molly', 'The Camp', 'Idle Moments (Brunswick Magpie Camp Riddell's Creek 1.1.1911)', 'Dinner', 'In the grey light of dawn', 'Homeward Bound', 'A last view of Riddell', 'A midday halt'.

Description of Content

Campsite with a dray, three tents amongst gum trees, a camp fire, various work areas, and twelve men, women and children standing in front of the camp.

Physical Description

Black and white photograph printed on thin paper, mounted in a twenty page brown card photograph album bound with red ribbon. The photograph is mounted on the right side of the page, and is tucked into slits in the page at each corner. The photographs is captioned and decorated with a hand-drawn frame, drawn in pencil and white ink.

Significance

This photograph is part of a set of two almost identical, handmade albums of camping photographs. The images in these albums are significant because we seem to have few images from this early twentieth century period that feature private mixed-gender family groups, including children, at a bush camp. Other photographs of campsites are earlier or later, and feature naturalist groups or groups of men only, or if they are the same period, such as the Harvie Collection, they have little contextual information on the camping trip. The albums being proposed have provenance, and have a location, date and the names of the campers portrayed on their camping trip, and some biographical information about some of these people.

The photographs and albums also show a fun sense of humour coming through, similar to the Bill Boyd Collection images, with the campers naming their campsite and hamming it up for the camera. The photographer has also created a delightful narrative through the album, with endearing captions placed on each photograph and a title given to the album as a whole to tell the story of the camping trip.

The photographs within their albums can also be seen as an insight to the work of the amateur photographer. While we have a number of albums in the collection which show the early twentieth century practice of the amateur photography enthusiast printing and presenting their own personal photographs, we don’t often have the opportunity to see this practice demonstrated in multiple albums from the one amateur photographer, as we do here. Typically we acquire a single album, and cannot see the broader process of producing such albums that having two allows us to see. For example, the two albums, while largely identical, show differences in the quality of the printed images, and in the mounting and decoration of the photographs in the albums, and hence show the dynamic and hand-crafted nature of this photographic practice, and perhaps the growing developing, printing and mounting skills of the photographer. Hence, it is proposed that both albums are acquired.

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