An image of Old High School, Castlereagh St

Harold Cazneaux

(New Zealand, Australia 30 Mar 1878 – 19 Jun 1953)

Old High School, Castlereagh St

Other titles:
Old High School
Not on display
Further information

This is a crisp shot of the entrance to the old Sydney Girls High School building on Castlereagh Street. The structure was demolished in 1922, when the school was relocated to Surry Hills, and replaced with the David Jones department store 1. Cazneaux’s depiction communicates a sense of vacancy with an absence of movement or life beyond the open-standing gates.
Harold Cazneaux was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1878. His parents, Pierce Mott Cazneau and Emma Florence (née Bentley) worked in commercial studios in New Zealand before returning to settle permanently in Adelaide during the early 1890s. At the age of 18 Cazneaux went to work alongside his father at Hammer & Co studio as a retoucher. He moved to Sydney in 1904 to join the larger portrait firm, Freeman’s quickly ascending to the position of ‘chief operator’ (as camera portraitists were known). Studio work was highly formulaic, with little scope for creativity. Cazneaux used his time walking to and from work to experiment with pictorialist aesthetics 1. The Photographic Society of New South Wales organised an exhibition of Cazneaux’s photographs in 1909, the first such solo exhibition of its kind in Australia. In 1916 he and fellow pictorialist photographer, Cecil Bostock founded the Sydney Camera Circle. The group was particularly interested in the how pictorialism could be adapted to and extended within an Australian context. The mechanised, standardised and frenetic pace of Freeman’s increasingly took its toll on Cazneaux’s creativity and health, and he resigned in 1917. He moved with his wife and daughters to the Sydney suburb of Roseville, and in 1920 he was employed as the official photographer for The Home magazine. This new position let him work in a varied indoor and outdoor environments. In 1938 Cazneaux was awarded an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of London. He continued to work until his death in 1953.
1. The Old School; In the Hands of Demolishers; Relics of the Early Days, ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, 22 August 1922 p 8
2. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85

circa 1920
gelatin silver photograph
24.6 x 12.5 cm image/sheet; 25.6 x 13.2 cm card
Signature & date

Signed c. verso card and l.r. original mount, pencil "H. Cazneaux". Not dated.

Gift of Iris Burke in memory of Keast Burke 1978
Accession number