‘…an eminence so lofty that a person looking from it can see the mighty City, and a portion of country round it, spread out before him like a large panorama.’ – From Heads of the people: an illustrated journal of literature, whims and oddities, 1847.
Observatory Hill is a central part of Sydney’s social and scientific history and few sites rival the Hill as both subject and object of Sydney views. From the first years of European settlement, artists and photographers chose this eminence to advertise and present the colony to foreign audiences. Since the 1850s, Sydney Observatory and its buildings have been as ceaselessly documented as they have been used to record and document the surrounding sky and panorama.
Observer & Observed features these attempts to understand a new environment, both at the local (Sydney) and universal (the stars) levels. This rare mix of the particular and the immense gives a special appeal to the visual history of Observatory Hill, as does the Hill’s relationship to Miller’s Point and the Rocks and their urban histories.
Drawn from the Powerhouse’s extensive photographic and pictorial collection and images from other institutions and individuals, the book includes pioneering astronomical photographs taken from the Observatory, early colonial views of Sydney, and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.