Shellal Mosaic : Fragments of Middle Eastern History at the Hocken

Friday, April 22nd, 2016 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

Post researched and written by Dr Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs.

Housed in the Hocken Photographs Collection is an album compiled by a World War I soldier, Francis Leddingham McFarlane (1888-1948) from Dunedin, who occupied a short-lived but significant place in the long history of the Shellal Mosaic.

Sapper McFarlane of the New Zealand Wireless Troop was serving in Palestine in April 1917, when fellow ANZAC soldiers near Shellal stumbled across pieces of this sixth century mosaic.  The chance discovery was made during the second battle of Gaza on the floor of a captured Turkish machine gun outpost, located on a small hill overlooking the cross roads of what would once have been the main road between Egypt and Jerusalem.[i]

The soldiers reported their find to Senior Chaplain, Rev. W. Maitland Woods, who had a keen interest in archaeology and made a habit of entertaining the troops with stories about the Holy Lands where they were based.[ii]  Rev. Maitland sought professional advice from curators at the Cairo Museum and gained permission to organise a group of volunteers to uncover and remove the remains.[iii]  Sapper McFarlane was given the job of drawing what they uncovered (fig. 1).[iv]

Figure 1. The sketcher at work. P1993-024-012c

Album 213 includes three photographs showing sections of the Shellal Mosaic in situ (figs 2, 3 and 4), as well as a photograph of the sketcher at work and his completed drawing of the whole carpet-style design (fig. 5).

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Figure 2. Mosaic floor discovered at Shellel. P1993-024-012a

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Figure 3. Inscription and portion of border. P1993-024-013a

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Figure 4. One of the circular designs. P1993-024-013b

A colour lithograph of McFarlane’s drawing was subsequently published in Cairo but, like the photograph, does not do full justice to the subtle hues.  An example of the lithograph can also be found at the Hocken, housed in the Ephemera Collection (fig.6).

MosaicSidebySide

Figure 5. Photograph of drawing of mosaic fragments. P1993-024-011a. Figure 6. Lithograph of mosaic found at Shellal, South Palestine on 23rd April 1917. Hocken Posters collection acc no. 816608.

The full significance of Sapper McFarlane’s drawing is explained in a booklet, written by A.D. Trendall and published by the Australian War Memorial Museum in 1942, some decades after the mosaic was handed over to the Australian government in 1918. Trendall relates how a second drawing, made by Captain M.S. Briggs six weeks later, reveals that during the interim, portions of the mosaic went missing.  Other soldiers probably took away pieces of the peacock and border in the lower right corner in particular as souvenirs and these proved impossible to recover.  Fortunately 8,000 tesserae survived from the top inscription written in Greek; enough to learn that the mosaic once decorated a church dating to A.D.561-2 and honoured a bishop and a priest called George.  Anyone wanting to learn the whole story plus an analysis of the imagery, technique and style, can read Trentham’s booklet, a later edition of which is housed with the album at the Hocken.

Frank McFarlane went on to serve as a war artist in the Middle East and continued to paint and draw after returning to civilian life. Other photographs in album 213 (all now available online via Hakena) help document McFarlane’s time during World War I in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).  These include a view of the Arch of Ctesiphon near Baghdad (fig. 7) and a soldier operating a pack set wireless in the field (fig. 8).  A sketchbook in the Hocken Pictorial Collections dates to the 1930s when McFarlane worked as a postmaster at Lawrence in Central Otago.  It includes pencil portraits of local people in Lawrence and remnants of the gold-mining days.

Figure 7. Arch of Ctesiphon near Baghdad. P1993-024-005a

S16-076f P1993_024_022b

Figure 8. Pack set wireless in the field, Mesopotamia. P1993-024-022b

Frank McFarlane married Bessie King and together they had two daughters who became professional painters with work also represented at the Hocken that reflects a shared interest in vestiges of the past.  Their paintings are not currently available online for copyright reasons but Heather McFarlane (1925-2011) married New Zealand diplomat, Sir Laurie Francis and a loose photograph in the back of album 213 shows her viewing the Shellal Mosaic on display at the Australian War Memorial Museum in 1965.  A drawing by Shona McFarlane-Highett (1929-2001) entitled ‘Dunedin-Palmyra’ (1965) depicts a quarter of the city that was once inhabited by Assyrians. A photograph in the Dunedin Public Library Collection at the Hocken (P1990-015/49-264) shows a similar row of houses, presumably named after the Syrian city of Palmyra and since demolished.

S16-037e P1990_015_49_0264

Figure 9 Palmyra before demolition, 1971. P1990-015-49-0264

These days the Shellal Mosaic is internationally recognised as one of the finest sixth-century mosaics in existence and as we prepare to welcome more Syrian refugees to the city, it may be a comfort for them to know that the Hocken also preserves some memories and material of relevance to that part of the world.

 

[i] A.D. Trendall, The Shellel Mosaic and Other Classical Antiquities in the Australian War Memorial Canberra, Canberra, 1964, p.9.

[ii] General Sir Harry Chauvel, ‘Foreword’ in The Shellel Mosaic and Other Classical Antiquities in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1964.

[iii] Trendall, p.9.

[iv] Ibid.

On the cover

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Dr Ali Clarke, Library Assistant – Reference

We’re always pleased to see images from our collections featuring on the cover of new books! Each year we put together a list of published items – from books to theses, blogs to journals, television series to exhibitions – which have made use of Hocken resources. Some of them relate to research carried out on our archives or publications, others have used our pictorial collections, and some have done both. So far we have tracked down over 200 items published in 2015 for our list, including 69 books. The variety of topics covered is remarkable, as demonstrated by the few examples featured here.

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MS-0975/234

The very handsome 4-volume set of James K. Baxter’s complete prose, edited by John Weir, involved lots of digging through Baxter’s archives, which are held here. The cover of the first volume features an amusing photo of Baxter with his coat on backwards in Cathedral Square, Christchurch in 1948, sourced from his archives. Another particularly handsome book that has drawn heavily on the Hocken Collections is John Wilson’s New Zealand mountaineering: a history in photographs. including many from our holdings of the New Zealand Alpine Club’s archives. Among them is the great cover shot of Syd Brookes and Bernie McLelland descending North Peak in the Arrowsmith Range in 1939, from an album compiled by Stan Conway.

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We can’t claim the splendid cover picture for Simon Nathan’s biography James Hector: explorer, scientist leader – that comes from the Alexander Turnbull Library – but he has made very good use of Hector’s papers, held at the Hocken. Hector’s notebooks are notoriously difficult to read, thanks to faint pencil combined with illegible handwriting, but some of the sketches in them make very effective illustrations in the book. Simon has also done splendid work transcribing various Hector letters in recent years, making them accessible to others.

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Hector’s sketches of Parengarenga Harbour and his Maori campanion, January 1866

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Another 2015 book which brings previously unpublished work to light is New country, a collection of plays and stories by James Courage, with an introduction by Christopher Burke. Some have been previously published, but one comes straight from Courage’s papers at the Hocken. The book also features some fascinating photographs from Courage’s papers. Genre Books, the publisher, also made good use of Hocken material in a 2014 book, Chris Brickell’s Southern men: gay lives in pictures. This includes numerous photographs from the archives of David Wildey, held in the Hocken largely thanks to Chris. On the cover is one of Wildey’s photographs, recording a visit to Waimairi Beach, Christchurch in 1960.

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Lest we leave you with the impression that all material from our collection is about recreation and enjoyment, another cover from 2014 shows a sober purpose. Presbyterian Support Otago’s report Out in the cold: a survey of low income private rental housing in Dunedin features one of our old photographs of the crowded suburbs of southern Dunedin. The Hocken really does have material for all sorts of purposes.

Postcards at the Hocken

Monday, January 25th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Dr Anna Petersen (Assistant Curator of Photographs), originally published in Deja View 63 (February 2014), pp. 10-14  (Journal of the Photographic Collectors’ Association of New Zealand)

The Hocken Library has a good collection of early postcards available to researchers, as one would expect of an institution located in Dunedin – the centre of postcard production in Australasia during its postal heyday. There are approximately four thousand postcards in total housed separately in their own sequence within the Hocken Photographs Collection and digital images of about a third of these are currently available on the Hocken Snapshop website.   Hundreds more are housed within individual holdings named after their donors, as well as in albums and brief descriptions of these are given on the Hakena database, available online via the Hocken Library home page.  Countless more postcards are to be found in the Hocken Archives Collection though not collected as postcards per se and, due to the sheer mass of material and limited resources of the Library, only a mention of the format has so far generally been given on the Hakena database.

A visit to the Hocken provides an opportunity to view postcards by particular photographers alongside other examples of their work.  Bill Main chose to mention the E.A. Phillips collection of negatives, for example, in his brief description of the Hocken’s holdings in his book Wish You Were Here.[i]  The recent acquisition of Hardwicke Knight’s collection of photographs and archives currently being catalogued also contains some hundreds of postcards and looks set to bolster in particular the number of images from the Aotearoa series produced by Hugh and G.K. Neill.

GuyFigure1

Figure 1 Portrait of Guy Morris, F.L. Jones photograph.  S09-113b.

 

One favourite Dunedin photographer for curators at the Hocken over the years has been Guy Morris (1868-1918, see figure 1).  Guy Morris’s work was featured at an in-house exhibition in 2009, following the gift of over 100 original photographs from the estate of his eldest daughter, Marina. The show included postcards carrying his images as well as illustrated supplements from the Otago Witness newspaper which contain many published copies of Guy’s work from 1900 until his death during the flu epidemic in 1918.

Hardwicke Knight was the first to mention Guy Morris in his histories of New Zealand photography.[ii]  He explained how the Morris name was well known in Dunedin at the end of the nineteenth century as John Morris, Guy’s elder brother, headed a thriving photographic business.[iii]  John Morris (1854-1919) rose to prominence as a portrait photographer, and, in competition with the Burton Brothers, his prints of Dunedin streets also proved popular, possibly as Hardwicke Knight noted, because he included so much life.  Guy and another brother, Hugh, began as John’s apprentices and then ran branches of the firm around the city before Guy struck out on his own in 1900, trading under his first name.[iv]

Bill Main has published a couple of articles specifically about Guy Morris’s postcards in Postcard Pillar in 2007 and 2011, well-illustrated with examples of his colour and real photo cards.  A useful list of cards in Bill’s private collection reveals how Guy’s images appeared in a number of different series and though mainly devoted to the Dunedin and Otago region, he also photographed other corners of New Zealand. [v] The Hocken holds cards by Guy of places as far south as Stewart Island and north to Bluff Hill in Napier.   Bill Main focused on Guy’s work as a press photographer, putting him on a par with Joseph Zachariah and S.C Smith in Wellington and F.N. Jones in Nelson, and noted  how  his street scenes were ‘refreshingly different’ for the choice of subject matter in people going about their business and the manner in which they were taken  ‘with Dunedin’s trams playing a very important part in his ordered compositions’. [vi]  Another aspect of this is that his subjects can often be matched and dated accurately with photographs in the Otago Witness.  We can therefore know that his ‘Naseby Snow Series’ was a record of a heavy fall in July 1908, for example.

GuyFigure2

Figure 2 ‘Lawyer’s Head Dunedin NZ’, Standard Series postcard, Guy photograph, c.1908.  S14-006b.

I would like to draw attention to Guy’s early postcards that at first sight might not seem as interesting or exciting to collect in terms of action.  These include colour lithograph views of sunsets and largely empty shorelines like that shown in figure 2, now such ubiquitous subjects in the postcard market with its modern printing techniques.  During the first decade of the twentieth century, however, such mechanically reproduced scenes were about as close to a real colour photograph as was possible.  Moreover, the subject of unspoilt nature in the form of uncrowded spaces, unpolluted water and clear skies was very topical (as indeed is still the case), as people in Europe looked to escape their over-populated, smog-bound cities and local authorities sought to attract the discerning public to Dunedin.

Guy’s career as a photographer covered the Edwardian period, often referred to as ‘The Age of Innocence’ before World War One.  Dunedin was a safe haven even by New Zealand standards and residents actively promoted the city as a good place to raise a family.  The Otago Witness newspaper published a weekly column espousing the teachings of local hero, F. Truby King and ‘Dunedin became the Citadel’ of the Plunket Movement.[vii]  The newspaper also supported the Dunedin Expansion League’s quest to attract industrious, skilled workmen with large young families to bolster the population, further business interests and regain the position of foremost city in New Zealand.[viii]

The golden beaches lying literally at Dunedin’s doorstep, which had been largely neglected by photographers until this point, constituted a major selling point and Guy’s photographs and postcards served an integral part in advertising the fact.  While the focus of photographers during the late nineteenth century had been on promoting the material progress of the colony and Muir and Moodie’s extensive stock of postcards concentrated on built-up areas of the city, Guy offered a change of scene and rather different set of values.  Along with his postcards of other public beauty spots like the Botanical Gardens and Outram Glen, Guy’s images of the open coastline spoke of a romantic closeness to nature and wealth of wholesome leisure activities which held universal appeal.

GuyFigure3

Figure 3 Original photograph of an image included in ‘Scenes on the Beach at St Clair, Dunedin’, Otago Witness Christmas Annual, 1905, p.40.  S09-096g.

A critical aspect of the message was that the sandy stretch was accessible to all and, by in large, this appeared to be the case.  The trams that Bill Main noted as integral to Guy’s cityscapes, now linked the suburbs more completely to the business centre making it easier for everyone to travel and bathe in the salt water, walk along the esplanade, picnic and take in the fresh air.  Crowds of people made their way there each Labour Day when the weather was fine, and over the summer months as documented in Guy’s photographs published in the Otago Witness Christmas Annual (for example, see figure 3).  Copies of the Christmas Annual made their way across the world courtesy of the New Zealand Government Department of Tourist and Health Resorts.  Of course the very idea of being on the beach around Christmas time was a novelty for adults of European origin.  One copy of the Guy postcard in figure 4 (a photograph reproduced in at least four different postcard series including F.T. Opalette, F.T. Domed Glossine and Industria) was sent by one local resident as a Christmas card to a friend just down the Otago Harbour at Broad Bay.

GuyFigure4

Figure 4 ‘St Clair, Dunedin, N.Z.’, Guy postcard, c.1909. S14-006a.

Yet then, as now, it was still possible to find the beach virtually to oneself and judging from his output, Guy spent hours photographing beside the sea.  Purely from an aesthetic point of view, Guy found an ever-changing play of light and form in the vista of earth, sea and sky between Lawyer’s Head and St Clair known as Ocean Beach, the warren of curious volcanic rock formations further south towards the expanse of sand looking out to Green Island and drama of the waves of the South Pacific Ocean hitting land.  Amongst the original prints by Guy in the Hocken Photographs Collection are many studies (figure 5) that obviously constituted a library of images to choose from for his postcards.

GuyFigure5

Figure 5 St Kilda, Guy photograph, undated. Marina Morris Collection. S14-006d.

By working productively and spending the time, Guy established a personal relationship with the Dunedin coast, making it his own.  Though some other postcard images of the area by different photographers can be seen on the Hocken Snapshop site, Guy appears to have produced the largest number.  Guy’s postcards and published photographs comprise both public as well as more private views, perhaps none more so than those that include his own children enjoying themselves.  The card entitled ‘Ocean Beach, Dunedin. A Summer Seascape’ (figure 6) may well feature his three young daughters just above his signature, a portrait of whom is also reproduced here from the Hocken Photographs Collection (figure 7).

GuyFigure6

Figure 6 ‘Ocean Beach, Dunedin.  A Summer Seascape’, Guy postcard, undated.  S14-006c.

Guy Figure7

Figure 7 ‘Gathering Wild Berries’ [Portrait of Jean, Dorothy and Marina Morris], original photograph reproduced in Otago Witness Christmas Annual, December 1912, p. 39.  S14-008.

Studying postcards of the closest beaches at the Hocken, we are left with a record of Guy’s vision of a healthy city environment and people―fresh, clean, full of natural beauty and promise.  What were once new views of Dunedin are now old, but over a century later, they remain relevant.  The same virtues that Guy and other citizens valued continue to satisfy local residents and attract foreign families to the city.  Providing just a sample of the postcards held at the Hocken, Guy’s postcards are undoubtedly worth collecting and preserving.  They represent just a fraction of the postcards held at the Hocken but speak of the potential the collection holds for researchers as a whole.

[i] William Main, Wish You Were Here, Wakefield, 2005, p.114.

[ii] For example, see Hardwicke Knight, Photography in New Zealand:  A Social and Technical History, Dunedin, 1971, p.108.

[iii] Hardwicke Knight, The Photography of John Richard Morris: An Appreciation of his contribution to New Zealand portrait and view photography in the nineteenth century, Dunedin, 1995.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] William Main, “Guy” Guy Clayton Morris 1868-1918’, Postcard Pillar, issue 79 (August 2007), pp. 16-17.

[vi] Main, p.15.

[vii] Erik Olssen, A History of Otago, Dunedin, 1984, p.151.

[viii] See, for example, ‘Dunedin The City Beautiful’, Otago Witness Christmas Annual, December 1912,  back cover.

Busy lead-up to ANZAC Day

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Dr Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs

Hocken Album 512 has seen a busy time these past few weeks with University of Otago Art History students opting to study it for an assignment and images copied for an exhibition at Fraser Island in Australia to commemorate the part the hospital ship ‘Maheno’ and its crew played in World War One.

The album first became available to the public in 2001 when it was purchased for the Hocken Photographs Collection at a local auction.  Some years later, Sandy Callister featured whole pages from it in her book The Face of War: New Zealand Great War Photography, Auckland University Press, 2008, partly singling it out from the many war albums dominated by images from the Gallipoli Campaign because of the excellent quality of the images.  Callister also found the content and arrangement of the photographs revealing in her quest to uncover the public understanding of the sacrificial cost of the war.

The four different pages shown below include rare snapshots of life on board the HS Maheno, glimpses of people from other countries who toiled to provide coal for the mighty, steam-powered ship as it traveled to the other side of the world, and images of soldiers at ANZAC Cove.

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S15-108a P2001-009/2 Page 8

 

S15-118a   P2001-009 Page 15

S15-118a P2001-009/2 Page 15

 

S15-118b   P2001-009 Page 17

S15-118b P2001-009/2 Page 17

 

S15-118c   P2001-009 Page 19

S15-118c P2001-009/2 Page 19

 

No supplementary information came with the album regarding its creator or provenance but clues contained within it have led researchers to conclude it was most likely compiled from photographs taken by Lieutenant Howard Beecham Pattrick (1884-1962).  Pattrick first enlisted as a medic in 1915 when living as a student at Knox College, Dunedin.  He later became part of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and suffered a serious wound on the Western Front in 1917.  According to the Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (p.251)

During operations lasting several days, he displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  On one occasion he was blown up by a shell and badly shaken, but he declined to retire, and carried on with his men.  When all the officers had become casualties, he took command of the company, and it was largely owing to his fine and resolute leadership that the objective was quickly reached.  He set a splendid example to his men.

Pattrick was awarded the Military Cross in August 1918 for the acts described above, and was finally discharged from service on 25 November 1919.

Album 512 is available to patrons upstairs in the Pictorial Collections Reading Room under the accession number P2001-009/2.

Gigatown’s First Wireless Mast

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by Assistant Curator (Photographs), Dr Anna Petersen.

With all the talk about Dunedin winning the fast broadband competition to become New Zealand’s first gigatown, my unplugged brain had to search back to remember how ‘wireless’ used to be what people called the radio.

Almost 80 years ago now, the city got its first wireless mast and a recent donation of photographs (ref.code P2015-004/1) documents its instalment by Hillside Workshops staff on the hill at Highcliff in 1936.

Poet and founding Landfall editor, Charles Brasch noted the advance in his memoirs. He returned to Dunedin in 1938 to find ‘The view had changed, in six years.  The harbour waterfront, before you reached the wharves, was now decorated with groups of huge light-silver oil drums announcing in giant letters EUROPA, PLUME, SHELL.  At first sight I thought : Hideous! but then began to like them, although they gave the waterfront the air of a Near Eastern port.  Two tall wireless masts had been set up on the highest near point of the Peninsula, beyond Highcliff….’ (Indirections, p.296)

The following sequence of photographs shows the setting up of the first wireless mast.

S15-043a S15-043b S15-043c S15-043d S15-043g S15-043i

 

 

 

Winifred Betts – botany pioneer

Monday, September 8th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Dr Ali Clarke, Library Assistant (Reference)

This year the University of Otago Department of Botany is celebrating its 90th anniversary. In honour of the occasion, I’ve been looking back at the beginnings of botany, as revealed in the university’s archives here at the Hocken. Although the “department” is generally dated from 1924, when John Holloway began as lecturer, botany was taught as early as the 1870s. In the university’s early decades, when student numbers were small, there were very few teaching staff and they had a wide brief. The first professor of “natural science” – F.W. Hutton – taught geology as well as biology. The 1877 University Calendar offered a general introductory course called “Principles of Biology,” as well as papers in zoology and botany. This pattern was to continue for several decades. The 1877 botany course covered “the structure, functions, and distributions of the orders of cryptograms, and the principal orders of phanerogams,” as well as “the use of the microscope.”

Geology and biology were separated into two positions after Hutton left in 1880. Thomas Parker held the chair in biology from 1880 to 1897 and William Benham from 1898 to 1937. Both were brilliant scientists, but their chief research interests were in zoology rather than botany. As the university grew, the workload of teaching all aspects of biology to science, medical, dental and home science students became increasingly burdensome. Professor Benham managed to get an assistant – Winifred Farnie – to help with biology teaching from 1916 to 1918. In 1918 he suggested that it was time for the university to appoint a lecturer in botany, but the Council decided to delay for a year. The 1919 calendar notes that instruction in botany “is not provided at present” – presumably Benham had decided he was over-stretched and could no longer offer the course. He repeated his request for a botany lecturer to the council that year, and this time approval was granted. Benham already had somebody in mind for the post – his former student Winifred Betts.

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Otago University Graduates of 1917, including Winifred Betts and Winifred Farnie

Rather than simply appointing Betts, the council decided to advertise the post of botany lecturer. Were they, perhaps, reluctant to appoint a woman? As it turned out, they received three applications, all from women, and selected Betts as Otago’s first botany lecturer. For Benham, this was a long overdue development. In 1919, writing in honour of the university’s jubilee, he commented: “It is a curious fact that in each of the four colleges in New Zealand it has been expected that one man shall undertake to teach efficiently those two subjects [zoology and botany], which in England, even in fourth-rate educational institutions, have for many years been entrusted to two distinct individuals.” He was happy to report that Otago had now “set the example to the other University Colleges by appointing a lecturer in botany”.

Winnie Betts was just 25 years old when she commenced her new position at the beginning of 1920. Born in Moteuka, she was educated at Nelson College for Girls, receiving a University National Scholarship in 1911. She then came to Otago, graduating BSc in 1916 and MSc in 1917. She was clearly one of the more capable students of her era, and by 1915 Benham had selected her as a demonstrator in biology. On completing her MSc she received a National Research Scholarship – one was awarded at each university each year. This provided her with an income of £100 a year along with lab expenses so she could carry out independent research. In 1919, at a lecture to an admittedly partisan audience in Nelson, distinguished botanist Leonard Cockayne described Betts as “the most brilliant woman scientist in New Zealand.”

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Winifred Betts

 

In December 1920 Winnie Betts married another brilliant Otago graduate, the mathematician Alexander Aitken. Aitken, whose studies were interrupted by war service (he was badly wounded at the Somme), was by then teaching at Otago Boys’ High School. This was an era when most women left paid employment when they married, so it is intriguing that Winnie Aitken continued working as botany lecturer for some years. She joined a handful of women on Otago’s academic staff. As well as the women of the School of Home Science, there were Isabel Turnbull in Latin, Gladys Cameron in Bacteriology and Public Health and Bertha Clement in English; others came and went during Winnie’s years at Otago.

Winnie Aitken’s career as botany lecturer came to an end in December 1923. Her husband had been awarded a scholarship for postgraduate study and they moved to Edinburgh, where he had a long and distinguished academic career as a mathematician. Alexander died in 1967 and Winnie in 1971; they had two children. Various women have since taught botany at the University of Otago; indeed, it has been one of the more gender-balanced of the academic departments. As the department celebrates its 90th anniversary with Prof Kath Dickinson at its head, it seems an appropriate moment to remember the woman who pioneered it all!

Hocken Snapshop now feeding into Digital NZ

Monday, May 12th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

We are very pleased to announce that the Hocken Snapshop database of around 30,000 images of our photographic collections is now feeding into Digital NZ. This provides different functionality than Snapshop, and allows you to search for Hocken images along with 27 million other digital items from across NZ. You can search across all 27 million at once or narrow your search using the filters system on the site.

Thanks to the Digital NZ staff and also to NZ Micrographics, who designed and support the Recollect database that we use for Snapshop.

Check out Digital NZ from this link http://digitalnz.org.nz/

 

 

 

 

Holidays at Hampden

Monday, April 7th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Preparing the wall labels for the upcoming ‘Peeps of Life’ exhibition, I had been wondering where these two girls were standing when their father, John Halliday Scott, took the photograph.  Chances were it was on that long sandy stretch of beach between Moeraki and Hampden where the family went for holidays around the turn of the twentieth century.

I tried google-earthing but could only land on the highway so when my friend and I were driving back from Trotters Gorge on Otago Anniversary weekend, we stopped for fish and chips by the sea at Hampden.  A snapshot taken on the iphone answered the question and now when I look at Marion and Helen Scott in their wonderful bonnets, I think of the best battered fish I have ever tasted and the delicate young feathers of the seagull standing on the bonnet of the car.

‘Peeps of Life: Photographs by John Halliday Scott’.  Hocken Gallery 11 April-12 July 2014.

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‘Marion and Helen Scott on the Beach at Hampden’, J.H. Scott photograph, Marion Scott Collection, S14-031d

And a similar view taken recently.

UnknownPost prepared by Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs

Some advertising magic is released by a recent acquisition at the Hocken

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

 

NZRLanternSlide

A glass lantern slide advertising a New Zealand Railways Mystery Tramp from Invercargill, c. 1930, 80mm x 80mm, Photographs Collection, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago.

This lantern slide promotes an excursion to an unknown southern destination for a mystery tramp, and was used for advertising to a cinema audience. Recently acquired for the Hocken’s Photographs collection, this New Zealand Railways promotion would have been projected onto the screen of an Invercargill movie house either prior or during a film showing.

Introduced in the 1600’s the magic lantern was the earliest form of slide projector. With the aid of a concave mirror the lantern, illuminated at first by candlelight, projected light through a small sheet of glass known as a lantern slide. By the turn of the twentieth century lantern shows were a popular source of entertainment. They were also integral to commercial advertising in cinema. By the 1930’s many lantern slides were produced by a black and white photographic process and hand-coloured with transparent dyes. As well as being readily used in advertising, theatres also used magic lanterns to project  ‘illustrated songs’, which were community sing-alongs with lyrics and illustrations, and to communicate short messages such as “Ladies, kindly remove your hats”, to their patrons.

At first the burgeoning reputation of motion pictures did not impact on the popularity of lantern shows and they continued to be used for entertainment and educational purposes. However, after the introduction of 35mm Kodachrome colour transparency film in 1936 the use of the magic lantern for cinema advertising was quickly superseded by slide projectors as a result of cinemas being eager to embrace new technologies.

The success of rail tourism during the interwar years, an era when private car ownership was on the rise, may be attributed to the advertising prowess of the Railways Department. Train travel and the popularity of day excursions was also boosted by the shorter working week which gave large sectors of the population more time to enjoy leisure activities. In response to increased competition from the motor car New Zealand Railways established a Publicity Branch and in July 1920 the Railways Advertising Studio was formed. It is likely that they produced the art work for this lantern slide which advertises a Mystery Tramp day excursion. The health benefits of train travel, often overstated in New Zealand Railway’s promotional material for urban rail-services, is merited on this occasion as the day-trip is encouraging participation in an outdoor physical pursuit.

In an age when we are bombarded with advertising images through a plethora of digital channels, researching the history of this glass slide has brought me closer to appreciating the lantern’s ‘magic’.

Blog post prepared by Natalie Poland, Curator of Pictorial Collections

Pacific Island Treasure and Mystery at the Hocken

Friday, August 2nd, 2013 | Anna Blackman | 4 Comments

Post prepared by Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) has never exactly been a popular topic for researchers at the Hocken as far as I know but in 2009, Dr Paul Horley of Yuri Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University in Ukraine wrote to inquire as to whether we had any photographs of rongorongo tablets from this small island on the other side of the Pacific.  I began my search feeling far from optimistic and was surprised to find that we hold ten albumen prints of Easter Island artefacts.  What is more, one of them turned out to be of exactly what Paul Horley was looking for.

Keiti, albumen print, Pacific Islands Collection, SO9.274a

Little over two dozen rongorongo tablets have been documented around the world (some are of questionable authenticity).  They are remains of a unique script thought to have evolved on the island sometime between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries.[1]  Catholic missionaries in the mid nineteenth century first recognised their value as evidence of an advanced Polynesian civilisation.[2]  By then the indigenous people no longer knew the meaning of the glyphs carved on wood but they called these tablets ‘kohau rongorongo’ or ‘singing wood’[3] and scholars continue to debate their translation.

Dr Horley identified the Hocken photograph as being of the tablet known as Keiti, which has been interpreted in relation to the Rapa Nui lunar calendar in three recent papers published in the Journal de la Societe des Oceanistes in 2011.[4]  The original artefact, which measured 39 x 13 cm, was sent by Tepano Jaussen, Bishop of Tahiti, to Europe in 1888 and destroyed in a fire during World War I at the library of l’Université Catholique at Louvain, Belgium.[5]

Just a few original photographs of Keiti remain and how the Hocken came to hold one remains a mystery in itself.  Paul Horley, who continues to research the subject, knows of two sets of photographs taken before the tablet was destroyed. ‘One set of photographs was made under direct light with the glyphs filled in with a white substance to improve the contrast (these images are in the collection of the Congregation of the Sacred Hears of Jesus and Mary, Rome).  The second set of photographs was made under slanted light, and the photograph that you have, showing the recto side of the tablet, belongs to this set.  The other copies of these pictures can be found in the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution; Library and Archives of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu; Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.  Some of these images are later prints…’.[6]

One piece of information that we have been able to add to the store of knowledge is that the Hocken photograph of Keiti may have been taken by the photographer Charles Spitz (1857-1894), who had a studio in Papeete.  As mentioned above, the print is one of a collection of ten and the mounts of some of the others are stamped with the words ‘Collection of J.L. Young’.  James Lyle Young (1849-1929) lived in Papeete from 1882 to 1929 while working in the trading business.[7]  He collected and later gave most of the other Easter Island artefacts recorded in the photographs to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu in 1920 and they also hold prints of these.   Several of the Hocken photographs reveal parts of Spitz’s studio mark either showing through from the back or shining on the surface.

Rapa Nui Figurines, albumen print, Pacific Islands Collection S13-201

The collection of Easter Island photographs at the Hocken bear no old accession numbers so one can only guess about how they entered the collection.  A possible source was H.D. Skinner, best known as a past Curator and Director of the Otago Museum but also one-time Librarian of the Hocken (1919-1926).  The Museum then housed the Library and is another Dunedin institution fortunate enough to hold a Rapa Nui treasure in the form of a moai (large stone statue), registered in 1929.[8]


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rongorongo (accessed 22 July 2013).

[2] For a comprehensive history see Steven Roger Fischer, Rongorongo, the Easter Island Script: history, tradition, texts, Oxford, 1997.

[3] Werner Wolff, ‘The Mystery of the Easter Island Script’, Journal of the Polynesian Society, 54, no.1 (1945), p.1.

[4] Rafal M. Wieczorek,  ‘Astronomical Content in Rongorongo Tablet Keiti’, Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 132 (2011), pp. 5-16; Paul Horley, ‘Lunar calendar in rongorongo texts and rock art of Easter Island’, Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 132 (2011), pp. 17-37; Konstantin Pozdniakov, ‘Tablet Keiti and calendar-like structures in Rapanui script’, Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 132 (2011), pp. 39-74.

[5] Fischer, pp.435-6.

[6] Paul Horley to the writer, email correspondence 10 April 2013.

[7] Biographical note, James Lyle Young – Papers, 1879-1929, State Library of New South Wales online catalogue.

[8] Moira White to the writer, email correspondence 3 May 2013.