Through a difference lens – Cazneaux by the Water

Harold Cazneaux Two boys on a raft 1905An exhibition of works by Harold Cazneaux, a giant in the history of Australian photography, has opened at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Through a difference lens – Cazneaux by the Water takes visitors back in time to Cazneaux’s soft focus Australia and gives us an insight into this significant photographer’s life.

In the late 1890s, Harold Cazneaux became interested in the idea of photography as art, rather than a mechanical recording process. He became its most passionate advocate here, exploring poetry, mood, atmosphere and form through his impressionistic ‘seeing’ eye. For more than 50 years Cazneaux’s camera captured the romance and life of the world as it changed around him.

Water too interested him. It was the perfect medium for his experimentations with creating mood, atmosphere and impression on the picture plane. This exhibition of more than 50 original pieces presents this aspect of Cazneaux’s art, reflecting how the water and Sydney Harbour fits within his work, his signature pictorial photographic style and his foray into modernism and abstract form.

A section of the exhibition explores Cazneaux’s interest in lost harbourscapes when some of his key waterfront compositions are juxtaposed with scenes from today taken by Australian National Maritime museum photographer Andrew Frolows, highlighting the changing face of Sydney.

Harold Cazneaux reflected on this, saying “Whatever pictures are made of our great Sydney today will in future years have some historical interest and value. As time marches on there will always be a Sydney of yesterday.”

Other photographs include his early experimentations, and poetic river and Sydney harbour scenes from 1904. Visitors will also come face to face with images of the larger muscular industrial waterscapes including ships arriving and departing, boating views, car ferry wharves, wharf workers and bridge views. There are scenes around harbour nooks such as Houseboat Kerosene Bay, beach views as well as his coastal landscapes on trips to South Australia in the 1930s.

Visitors are also taken us into the private family world of Cazneaux through family albums, his account and appointment books and his travelling bag and duster coat from days on the road. The exhibition also features items from the museum’s collection recently donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Anne Christoffersen in memory of the artist and key photos and personal material on loan from the Cazneaux family.

Through a difference lens – Cazneaux by the Water
Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray St, Darling Harbour (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 5 February 2017
Free admission to galleries

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Harold Cazneaux, Detail from Sydney Harbour scenes: two boys on a raft, 1905. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Anne Christoffersen, in memory of the artist.