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New Zealand 1878 – Australia 1953

  • Australia from 1889

Argyle Cut [also called 'Children of The Rocks']

[Children of The Rocks]
1912 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph
Primary Insc: No inscriptions
Dimensions: printed image 23.6 h x 27.7 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1981
Accession No: NGA 81.248
Subject: Art style: Pictorialism, Australia

More detail

Harold Cazneaux took this photograph of children in the Rocks area of Sydney in 1912. The small scale of the children contrasts with the immense height of the rock walls and bridges that rise above them.

It was not Cazneaux’s intention to make a social record or protest at the conditions in which they lived. However, there is a poignancy about the innocent timidity of the children which contrasts sharply with the notorious history of the place where they stand.

Argyle Cut is literally hewn out of the sandstone rock. It had been the underground home of thugs, petty gangsters and rats up until 1900 when the plague forced the civic authorities to sanitise the area.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra