David Mist collection digitization project

Portrait of children published in ‘Sydney: a book of photographs’, 1969
Portrait of children published in ‘Sydney: a book of photographs’, 1969

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences holds two important photography archives related to Sydney photographer David Mist – the Studio Ten archive (92/401) acquired as a gift of the photographer in 1992, and the David Mist archive (96/44/1) acquired as a gift of the photographer under the Australian Government Taxation Incentives for the Arts program in 1996. In recent years David Mist has been helping digitize these irreplaceable analogue collections with the Museum regularly lending David batches of negatives and transparencies to scan. These digital records then get added to the Collection Database. Thank you David!

Musician on the street, London, late 1950s
Musician on the street, London, late 1950s

David Mist is a London born photographer (b.1937) who moved to Sydney in 1961. Before migrating to Australia, David worked at Studio Five in London with John Cole where he often found himself working alongside influential practitioners like Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson and John French (who had David Bailey working as his assistant at the time) who would hire out Cole’s Studio Five studios. After arriving in Sydney, Mist joined the large commercial photography studio of Laurence Le Guay and John Nesbitt on Castlereagh Street, which he renamed ‘Studio Ten’ after Studio Five in London.

: Portrait of Australian cinematographer, Mike Molloy, 1960s
Portrait of Australian cinematographer, Mike Molloy, 1960s

The David Mist / Studio Ten photography archives consist of many, many prints but also, and perhaps more significantly, 1000s of large, medium and 35mm strip negative and positive, colour and black and white, film formats. These represent the output of Studio Ten and its photographers – David Mist, Laurence Le Guay and John Nesbitt. The collections also contain newspaper clippings, job books and biographical material related to the studio. These help document the collection and put the studio’s output in context.

Promotional shot for Qantas Pacesetters campaign, 1968
Promotional shot for Qantas Pacesetters campaign, 1968

Fashion and product promotions, corporate and event advertising (including the Grand Prix races and Australian Ballet Company performances), portraiture and documentary views of Sydney are covered in these collections

Australian Ballet Company with guest dancers, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, mid-1960s.
Australian Ballet Company with guest dancers, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, mid-1960s.

The symbiotic relationship which has developed between Mist and the Museum, in digitising these collections, began about 10 years ago when David was working on his autobiography ‘Exposed: a life behind the camera’ (published 2005). It continued when David needed to prepare works for the Museum of Sydney’s ‘David Mist: Swinging Sydney’ exhibition in 2008, and talks presented at the Museum in association with History Week and the Head On Photo Festival.

Ferguson P99 Coventry Climax' ,driven by Graham Hill, 1962 and 1968 World Champion Graham Hill in the 1963 Australian G rand Prix at Warwick Farm. Collection: MAAS
Ferguson P99 Coventry Climax, driven by Graham Hill in the 1963 Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm. Collection: MAAS

His most recent batch of scans includes rediscovered Grand Prix negatives from the Studio Ten archive taken while David was on assignment at Warwick Farm in the early 1960s producing shots for USB Advertising Agency’s Shell petroleum advertisements. These tie in nicely with the opening of the Museum’s new ‘Auto Obsession’ exhibition.

Portrait of Jack Brabham with David McKay after his second Australian Grand Prix win at Warwick Farm on 10 February, 1963 when Brabham received a standing ovation from the grandstands.
Portrait of Jack Brabham with David McKay after his second Australian Grand Prix win at Warwick Farm on 10 February, 1963 when Brabham received a standing ovation from the grandstands.

Over 300 digital records can now be viewed on the Powerhouse Museum website with more than 600 stored on the Museum’s collection database. Photographs, including late 1960s shots taken while David was working in and around Sydney for his ‘Sydney: a book of photographs’ and ‘Made in Australia’ publications of 1969, can be ordered through the Museum’s Photolibrary.

Car park, Kent Street, Sydney, published on page 52 of 'Sydney: a book of photographs', 1969.
Car park, Kent Street, Sydney, published on page 52 of ‘Sydney: a book of photographs’, 1969.

Written by Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator

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