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Thomas Dick

Set of 12 framed Photographic prints - c. 1900

photo reproductions on paper
12 x 56 x 46 cm
Price Realised: $1,700.00

MP #258


Australian Museum Sydney, NSW
Private Collection, NSW

Set of 12 photographic images depicting the Birpai and Dhungati peoples and their traditional activities on the Hastings, Manning and Maria Rivers, central coast of NSW taken by Thomas Dick.

Thomas Dick was interested in the local Birpai people and concerned with their welfare. He believed that Indigenous people were dying out and, before their way of life was lost forever, sought to record how they had lived before European colonisation. With the help of a group of Birpai, Dick used three cameras — a Ruby Reflex and two Thornton Pickards — to take hundreds of photographs of re-enacted scenes of traditional Birpai activities. He was particularly interested in processes of artefact-making. Today only a fragmented collection of his photographs survives.

In keeping with anthropological practice of the time, Dick annotated his photographs with information about the activities they showed. Individuals were rarely identified. In recent years, Birpai people have looked again at Dick’s images, re-captioning them as pictures of their fathers and grandfathers.