Whenever asked ‘when, where and what’ to visit in Sydney, we know the answer: the Opera House with her pure white sails lit in moonlight and of course, our iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge that sparkles beautifully every New Year’s Eve.
Yet to others, the first place that comes to mind, is Luna Park. As Lindop would say, ‘Forget the Opera House, forget everything. What I remember is Luna Park…” (2015: p21) – and so do we think again of those fun times in the past at Luna Park here at MAAS, through David Mist’s brilliant documentary and fashion photography work?
Yes, because three weeks ago ‘the David Mist Digitisation’ team, which I have recently become part of as an Intern, enthusiastically re-discovered significant negatives.
These photographs were taken by Mist in 1971, when he had been directing Studio Ten and worked with many fashion clients, including Sydney’s Anthony Hordern & Sons, Waltons and Myers department stores.
Indeed, back in the 1970s, we loved patterns! From bright coloured flowers to large repetitive dots; girls and boys ‘dressed to impress’. The boys ensured they looked cool with their distinct collar and tailored shirts, whilst the girls were very feminine with their dress covered in floral prints.
Considering that photography technology was very different at that time, when photoflash bulbs exploded on the scene, these negatives demonstrate Mist’s great craftsmanship in taking fashion photographs on location.
Aware of the strong Australian sun and using such light to his advantage, Mist achieved a strong high contrast and interesting composition that makes each image taken at Luna Park visually appealing and compelling. Mist and the MAAS team allowed me to assist scanning these negatives into positives. Working closely with Michael Myers, the Museum’s skilled conservator photographer, we created 72 ‘digital surrogates’ of parts in archive 92/401. Interestingly we discovered that several negatives capture the original carousel ponies before accidental damage during restoration in 1973. (Art of Fun, 2009). When the Museum’s online collection is re-harvested later this year, anyone with internet access will then be able to see this part of the archive.
Photographer Max Dupain may be renowned for his photographs of the Opera House; Mist, however, has captured brilliantly other Sydney Icons, including Luna Park. We hope to reconnect you with the retro fashion style of the 70s, David Mist’s work and Luna Park’s history and love to hear from you if you have a memory related to this archive.
Post by Pearl de Waal, Curatorial Intern with Anne Marie Van de Ven, Curator.
Lindop, G. (2015). Luna park. Manchester: Carcanet.
The Art of Fun (2009) http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/the-screen-guide/t/the-art-of-fun-2009/29069/