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Old Film:: Grandmother’s Photographs

My grandmother, Elvie Ruth Bonner (1901-1986), came from old money but was cast out quite early and with at least two children married my dirt-poor grandfather William Lionel Clark sometime after the Great War. She was an avid photographer throughout her life and appears to have preferred medium format in evolving & disappearing types. Albums and negatives are her legacy.

Elvie Ruth Bonner

This photograph was taken at Risby’s Basin logging camp at Maydena, Tasmania in the period 1947-1951. I would hazard a guess and say the subject was one of my older aunts – possibly Pat.

Aunt Pat in a clear felled forested area

My grandmother shot a lot of her work among the itinerant workers, loggers and clear-felled logging coupes that paved the way for how the Tasmanian forestry operates to this day. Clear felling old growth forest is almost a Government tradition. It was a time of great hardship for the family and they helped fill a train with cut firewood each day to earn their keep. My father, Lionel Bruce, had left school at the end of grade 6 to contribute to the labour.

Aunt Pat, uncle Billy and uncle Nig with Leo Thorne, Risby's Basin logging camp, Maydena Tasmania - 1947

Well beyond this time my grandmother was poor and would shoot her rolls of film then cherry-pick favourites from the contact sheet with a pair of scissors. Often, these scissor cuts are less than elegant so sadly the albums are a bit of a hack with writing on the front and/or back of some photographs.

However, my older sister may have these negatives and a lot more in Queensland so it would be interesting to scan them and push a small number out onto this weblog out of historic interest. Many of the portraits she made would be of interest to the workers’ descendants. I look forward to sharing.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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