Woodchopping competition, Ballarat, circa 1910.
Gelatin silver print photograph, 155 x 205 mm, laid down on an old album page; no photographer’s imprint; verso inscribed in pencil in a modern hand ‘Wood cutting competition, Ballarat’; this inscription by the previous owner was based on original inscriptions on other photographs removed from the album, which were all taken in the Ballarat area; note that the album page has been “split”, meaning that the photograph on the verso has been carefully separated from the page; the gelatin print is in superb condition.
In this marvellous outdoor photograph, a group of around 50 men, women, and children are seated in the middle of a paddock. They are dressed in their Sunday best, most of the women sporting elegant hats. The woodchop contestants stand on their blocks in a ring behind them, posed for the camera with their axes at the ready for the “standing block chop”. The clarity of the detail in this image – perhaps taken by a talented amateur photographer – is quite phenomenal, and captures the communal merriment of what was perhaps an Easter Sunday festival.
A great piece of Ballarat social history.