Olive COTTON, No title [factory] Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 2003

No title [factory] c.1942-45 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: printed image 20.7 h x 15.2 w cm sheet 22.0 h x 16.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1983
Accession No: NGA 83.2897
  • Purchased 1983

This is one of the few surviving photographs taken by Cotton as studio manager while Dupain was away during the war. It shows the vast interior of a manufacturing plant in Sydney and represents the country’s wartime production as efficient, streamlined and – with its emphatic vanishing point – highly focussed. Cotton often described this time as one of her happiest as a photographer. She had her choice of work among those clients who remained with the studio (in Dupain’s absence, David Jones took their business elsewhere), and photographs were printed, stamped and circulated in her name. Like Aircraft mechanics (1945), also in this exhibition, this view of industry demonstrates Cotton’s awareness of the ideological potential of photography, and indicates something of the pleasure she took in images of labour and production.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra