All but one of the images used for School have been contact printed from a set of glass negatives which were made for the Mount Morgan Mining Company since its establishment in the 1890s, by photographers whose identities have not been recorded. The negatives were donated to the Central Queensland University Library when the Mine was closed in the 1980s.
The contact prints have been woven onto themselves using a patterning device that responds to the subject of each image, as a way of highlighting the “real discipline” imaged in the photographs.
One photograph features the timber supports of an underground mine shaft at the Mount Morgan Gold Mine – at its centre an ore wagon and the miners. In two others, groups of people are gathered for formal photographs out of doors: the Baree School of Arts Committee resting on grass beside water, at their centre a little girl holding a purse; and a group portrait (the one print not from the MMGM Collection) of the remaining survivors of the Woppabura clan of Keppel Island, posed holding a blackboard identifying the moment as Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Four photographs document rooms in the Mount Morgan Technical College, emptied for a pre-World War 1 open day display – a drawing studio, a metal workshop, a dressmakers’ workroom and a carpenters’ workshop containing a class of apprentices with their masters, standing frozen in the light of a magnesium flare.
Curators note for Photography is Dead. Long live photography
Museum of Contemporary Art 23 July – 10 November 1996