One of the undiscovered treasures in my town is the John Oxley Library of the State Library of Queensland. Yesterday members of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) had a wonderful and interesting excursion behind the scenes, and we were able to not only view some rare treasures, but actually pick up and closely view some of the photographs in the collection (using white gloves of course!).
Dianne Byrne (Curator Original Materials) and her Manager, Gavin Bannerman, were generous with their time and expertise. Not only did Dianne extract images, albums and negatives from their Collection, but also arranged for our party to inspect the conservation area and the collections sorting areas. These spaces were a rare opportunity to go “behind the scenes” and be briefed on the activities there. The Library has a history stretching back to 1896, and is the repository, amongst many other items, of historic photographs and photographic material pertaining to Queensland.
Of particular interest was a series of images by the great Sydney based photographer, Max Dupain (1911-92), who had been commissioned at various times to document many areas of Queensland. The Library has a number of images, printed personally by Dupain, of the Toowoomba and Brisbane areas. We also viewed images by Richard Daintree (1832-78) being conserved by the Library’s skilled team. Daintree was not only Queensland’s first official geologist, but a photographer of some note, and his record of far north Queensland is a valuable visual reportage of this territory. Some gentle landscapes by Rose Simmons were shown, as well as the original glass mounted projection images used by Romeo Lahey M.B.E, (1887 – 1968) in his lobbying to create the National Park system that we now enjoy in Queensland.
Our visit was aided by the technical knowledge of Dr Doug Spowart and Gary Cranitch (Photographer – Queensland Museum), who were able to comment with information gained from previous research. From my point of view it was satisfying to see my donation of a life’s commercial photography work starting to be unbundled prior to the cataloguing process prior to being placed into the collection.