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Old Film:: Three Ladies & a Baby (1920s-30s)

I’ve been told by my older sister that from left-to-right this may well be Ellen Ruth (my grandmother’s mother), Ella McDonald (my grandmother’s friend) and my grandmother. These are women living in the everyday struggle of poverty in early Twentieth Century Tasmania. The photographs on this page are scanned from 6cm x 9cm film negatives made by my grandmother Elvie Ruth Bonner (1901-1986).

Cissy Bonner and friends

My grandmother’s dedication to half a century of photographic practice is admirable. She struggled, raising a family, to get by with food and clothing as a constant issue; yet she kept making photographs. I compare her photographic practice to the meagre struggle in my life to leave the house and make pictures. And, to my advantage, I have three hundred feet of 135 film and around 20 rolls of 120 film in the fridge. So I don’t dismiss these photographs for their domesticity. They are, after all, a record of her time and place.

Baby on a seat

The baby appears to be a healthy boy, but it’s apparent from the chair covered by a simple wool blanket that he was born into poverty. It’s a simple portrait of somebody at the beginning of life. So I wonder who this person was, what they did in life and whether they still have living relatives in Tasmania?

My sister also tells me the baby was my father, Lionel Bruce Clark.

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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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