A nostalgia for Queensland’s pastoral past

 

Rose Simmonds’ photography has an important position in the Queensland Pictorialist photography movement. Emerging directly from the International Pictorialist movement which began in England and France at the end of the nineteenth century, local practitioners of this style continued to work in a manner which encouraged the acceptance of photography as a valid art-form. To this end, they explored techniques and processes which endowed their photographs with a more painterly quality. The inherent ability of the photographic image to reproduce a scene with accuracy and sharp detail was suppressed in favour of soft-focus and low-toned prints, producing romanticised images of the subject.

Unlike Pictorialist photographers in Sydney and Melbourne who chose the city as a recurring subject, Queensland Pictorialists favoured images of the rural landscape, waterways and the coastline, revealing a nostalgia for Australia’s pastoral past depicting scenes which avoid emphasis of specific detail in favour of the generic and atmospheric.

Although Simmonds is best known for her work in the Pictorialist style, some of her photographs also reveal modernist tendencies. Viewed as a whole, Simmonds’ photographic work presents an insight into photography in Australia.

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Rose Simmonds, Australia 1877-1960 / Shadows c.1930 / Gelatin silver photograph on paper / 19.3 x 29.6cm (comp.) / Gift of Rosemary Goodchild and Margaret Andresen 1993 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of the artist
Rose Simmonds, Australia 1877-1960 / Sabbath on the farm c.1930 / Bromoil photograph on paper / 22.7 x 27.3cm (comp.) / Gift of Dr J.H. Simmonds 1982 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of the artist
Rose Simmonds, Australia 1877-1960 / The valley farm, Currumbin c.1934-36 / Bromoil photograph on paper / 18.8 x 26.2cm (comp.) / Gift of Dr J.H. Simmonds 1982 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of the artist
Rose Simmonds, Australia 1877-1960 / The three witches c.1937 / Bromoil transfer photograph on paper / 25.5 x 30cm (comp.) / Gift of Dr J.H. Simmonds 1982 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of the artist
Rose Simmonds, Australia 1877-1960 / Edge of the forest at sunrise c.1937 / Bromoil photograph on paper on card / 22.2 x 28.6cm (comp.) / Gift of Dr J.H. Simmonds 1982 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of the artist
Rose Simmonds, Australia 1877-1960 / Last rays on the sand dunes c.1939-40 / Gelatin silver photograph on paper / 23.8 x 29.5cm (comp.)  / Gift of Dr J.H. Simmonds 1982 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of the artist
Rose Simmonds, Australia 1877-1960 / Storm c.1940 / Gelatin silver photograph on paper / 27.3 x 33.7cm (comp.) / Gift of Dr J.H. Simmonds 1982 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of the artist
Rose Simmonds, Australia 1877-1960 / Shadow on the tent c.1940 / Gelatin silver photograph on paper / 19.6 x 28.4cm (comp.) / Gift of Dr J.H. Simmonds 1982 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of the artist

Rose Simmonds

Rose Simmonds (1877-1960) was born in England and arrived in Brisbane with her family toward the end of the nineteenth century. She was active in photography from c.1925 to 1941 and during this time was the only female member of the Queensland Camera Club, elected to the club’s committee in 1928, and was elected to the Australian Royal Photographic Society in 1937. In addition to being published, her work was exhibited widely both within Australia and overseas.

Rose Simmonds / 82987 / Courtesy: State Library of Queensland, Brisbane

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On display in the Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Galleries, Australian Art Collection at the Queensland Art Gallery

Featured image detail: Rose Simmonds Storm c.1940
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Comments

  1. Black and white photography is particularly important as it gives a full range of tones which captures the mood more readily than colour.

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