DICK, Thomas (1877-1927)
Aborigines of the Hastings River district, NSW.
[Sydney : Dick Collection, Australian Museum, c.1980]. Complete set of 14 large format (410 x 510 mm) black-and-white photographic prints taken from photographer Thomas Dick’s original 1920s negatives held in the Museum’s collection; Museum’s printed caption labels to versos of 12 of the 14 prints, preserving Dick’s own field notes; a fine complete set, as issued (i.e. unframed).
The photographer, Thomas Dick (1877-1927), was a Port Macquarie oyster farmer. He probably took these important photographs recording the traditional culture and lifestyle of the Birpai people of the Hastings River district some time between 1920 and 1925.
‘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.’ (National Museum of Australia)
Please note: Additional images available on request.