VORLEY, Herbert Henry, 1839-1880 (attributed); LOCK, Henry Thomas; RING, James; [BOSWELL, Edward Blair Buchanan, 1860-1933]
[NEW ZEALAND] Large group of photographic views taken in and around Wesport and Charleston on the West Coast of the South Island, including gold mining scenes. 1870s-80s.
Group of seventeen albumen prints; sixteen are unmounted, in formats 140 x 200 mm (x14) or 180 x 240 mm (x2); one is 100 x 138 mm, laid down on a cabinet card mount (110 x 165 mm); most have handwritten captions and photographer’s name or initials in the negative; all but one have additional captions in pencil verso in the hand of Westport schoolmaster Edward Blair Buchanan Boswell (1860-1933), father of New Zealand artist James Boswell (1906-1971); a few of the prints (notably the two largest) have short edge-tears or mild creasing, but the majority are in very good condition with excellent tonal range and clarity.
A highly significant photographic archive assembled in the 1880s by Westport resident E. B. B. Boswell. These photographs, dating to the late 1870s and 1880s, document gold mining activities, townships and landscapes in the Westport and Charleston area of the West Coast. Although most were taken by local photographers Henry Thomas Lock and James Ring (Lock’s seem to be earlier than Ring’s), the five by unidentified artists are probably attributable to either Lock or Herbert Henry Vorley, or possibly even to E. B. B. Boswell himself, who, according to his son James was a keen amateur landscape photographer (see below).
The archive comprises the following:
Henry Thomas Lock. Cement crushing, Charleston. (In pencil verso). 100 x 138 mm. Cabinet card mount stamped ‘H. T. Lock’.
Henry Thomas Lock. Cement Crushing / H T. L. (Inscribed in negative). Cement crushing, Back Lead. Charleston NZ 1870 to 80. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
[Photographer unidentified]. Wealth of Nations Quartz crushing Battery – about 1883. (In pencil verso). 200 x 140 mm.
Henry Thomas Lock. “News from home” / H. T. L. (Inscribed in negative). Gold miner’s tent. Buller Goldfield, near Westport. 140 x 200 mm.
[Photographer unidentified]. Gold washing on black sand leads by men of colony of Shetlanders on Nine Mile Beach near Charleston. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm. Note: The men in this photograph have been identified as, from left: Magnus Johnson, John Madden, James Mouat, J R Mouat, Gilbert Harper, James Harper. (West Coast New Zealand History)
Henry Thomas Lock. Ground Sluicing / H. T. L. (Inscribed in negative). Ground Sluicing, Buller Goldfields. Either Buller Terraces or Back Lead, Charleston. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
Henry Thomas Lock. Second Bay, Charleston N.Z. / H. T. L. (Inscribed in negative). Second Bay, Charleston. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
[Photographer unidentified]. Wreck of SS Constant (?) in Bay, Charleston. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
[Photographer unidentified]. Rocks. Cape Foulwind. (Sam Oakefield). (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
[Photographer unidentified]. Fly catching on the Nile River, Charleston, West Coast South Island NZ. Tables covered with plush & sacking to catch the gold that had escaped from the workings & claims, discharged from the tail races further up the river. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
James Ring. Lagoon, Westport. 859 / Ring Photo. (Inscribed in negative). Creek flowing into lgoon on south side of Buller River, Westport NZ. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
James Ring. On the Buller River, Westport, NZ. 857 / Ring Photo. (Inscribed in negative). The P.S. Result lying at Westport after the engines had been removed and placed in a new hull built in Railway Yard at Westport, about 1884-5. New vessel named P.S. Nile. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
James Ring. Junction of Buller and Inangahua Rivers, NZ 441 J.R. (Inscribed in negative). Junction of Buller and Inangahua Rivers (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
James Ring. Palmesrton St. Westport 1328 J.R. (Inscribed in negative). Palmerston St., Westport NZ about 1883 to 90. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm.
James Ring. Westport Harbour. No. 387 J.R. (Inscribed in negative). Westport 1885 to 90? P.S. Nile lying at Riley’s Wharf. Railway wharf & approach to coal-loading staiths. (In pencil verso). 140 x 200 mm
Henry Thomas Lock. Path among the ferns, Mokihinui / H. T. L. (Inscribed in negative). (Verso uninscribed). 180 x 240 mm.
Henry Thomas Lock. Nile River, Charleston / H. T. L. (Inscribed in negative). Entrance to Gorge – Nile River above the bridge. Charleston. (In pencil verso). 180 x 240 mm.
Provenance: Edward Blair Buchanan Boswell (Westport and Auckland); private collection, Melbourne.
‘BOSWELL, EDWARD BLAIR BUCHANAN 1860–1933. Born in Argyllshire, Scotland, lived in Stewarton and attended Rothesay Academy at some time. Came to New Zealand with mother and brother, arriving in Otago on Lyttelton 6 Sept 1880: lived in Dunedin for about 3 years, taking lessons in 1883 from painter George O’Brien (a fellow student was A. W. Walsh). Moved with his mother to Westport, took up school teaching and married Ida Charlotte Fair from Charleston. By 1906 when his son was born was deputy head master of the high school at Westport. In 1916 he retired and came to Auckland. He lived in Remuera until he died. His son James Edward Buchanan Boswell, who was to become a successful British graphic artist, wrote of his father as a skilled amateur watercolourist who did little work but kept up a passionate interest in the arts. The house he designed and built in Westport had in it furniture designed by him and made from New Zealand woods and in everything like this he was influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement ideas which he got from The Studio, subscribing to it from the beginning. He collected books and they made the background for many other of his interests—his shell collecting, his topographical photography, his fashioning of furniture in carved wood and beaten brass, his collecting of botanical specimens and of geological specimens. Represented in Hocken.’ (Nineteenth century New Zealand artists: a guide and handbook. Victoria University, Wellington)
The following reminiscence of E. B. B. Boswell by his artist son, James, is quoted in an essay by Herbert Roth, James Boswell : a New Zealand artist in London, in Auckland City Art Gallery Quarterly, Number 65, December 1977:
‘”My father,” wrote Boswell in an aubiographical letter, “helped to create surroundings which made simple and acceptable the idea of being a painter. He was a skilful amateur watercolourist who did little work but kept up a passionate interest in the arts. The house he designed and built in Westport was very much influenced by Arts and Crafts Movement ideas which he absorbed from The Studio (he subscribed to it from its beginning and kept it as well as all the year books and special numbers). He designed all the furniture as well and had it made from New Zealand woods… He was addicted to books. Never threw one away. The house was full of them and I lived off them. My mother told me much later that, when they married, my father owed the local bookseller a debt larger than his year’s salary… This bookish world was the background to a lot of activity. He collected shells… He collected botanical specimens… He collected geological specimens, worked industriously as an amateur topographical photographer, designed furniture and made it in carved wood and beaten brass and round about April every year he took to watercolour painting (on a small scale). My mother claimed that these spells began and ended always on the same dates. As a result of these various interests he never persisted at anything for long enough to excel at it but he managed to create in his home a cultural circle which attracted people from all over New Zealand. It was much the same in Auckland – we moved there in 1917 and seemed to have an open house. Being a painter seemed to me the most natural and easy thing in the world, once I had persuaded the family that they didn’t need a doctor in the family”‘ (ibid., p.3).