Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Identifying Our Past

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Identifying Our Past

Article excerpt

The gallery is in the process of trying to identify its collection of Lindt photographs gifted by Sam and Janet Cullen and family in 2004.

John William Lindt was born in 1845 in Germany. He received the liberal education of a middle-class German of his time, with a fine grounding in literature, four languages and music. His formal education ended abruptly when he ran away to sea, arriving in Melbourne, Australia in November 1862 aged 17, having worked his passage on a Dutch ship.

After a year of working by tuning the pianos of scattered outback settlers he arrived in Grafton, the centre of a rich agricultural settlement on the Clarence River.

About two and a half thousand white settlers, including a significant colony of Germans, populated Grafton. One of the leaders of this group was its interpreter Conrad Wagner, an artist and photographer. Lindt learnt his craft by working as Wagner's apprentice for five years.

Lindt was one of the first photographers to use the camera creatively, to move beyond recording to make evocative pictures that were referred to as pictorialism.

Most of Lindt's work hovered between pictorialist abstraction and photojournalism. This adventurous photographer became recognised nationally and internationally for his artistic contribution to the development of photography.

The Grafton Regional Gallery stands on the traditional custodial land of many of the people in the photographs. The beautiful portraits though posed feature convey a unique insight into the lives of Aboriginal peoples in the Grafton area.

John William Lindt took great care in portraying his subjects from childhood, maturity and old age, and clearly tried to show Aborigines as they lived before European contact. The detailed pictures capture skin textures and intricate scarification, jewellery, clothes, tools, weapons and utensils such as string carry bags.

The immediacy and realism of the portraits were excellent for their time given the limits of photography in 1873. …

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