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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 (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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