Family Names

Friday, 26 January 2018

SEPIA SATURDAY 403 - INTERIORS

I have hundreds of photos in my collection, but very few of internal spaces that are not focused on clusters of people around a dinner table or people talking in groups.  Very few of these photos expose the interior design styles or quirks of the era. Below is a series of 3 photos taken circa 1959 that give a little bit of an idea of that period, at least for the working class.

The Context of the Images
Judy Todman & John Williamson’s first home together in Hamilton, Victoria, Australia. The couple moved initially to the Grampians in country Victoria and lived in a caravan while John took on odd jobs close by in Stawell and Judy worked as a nurse in the local hospital. The photos were probably taken to send home to Judy’s family back in Melbourne. The furnishings came with the house.

John fancied himself as a serious amateur photographer and may have developed the photos himself after taking them. The originals photographs are black and white, 3 inches by 2 inches and have sustained quite a bit of surface damage from light scratching.

The photos are staged which probably explains why the bookcase ornaments in one photo are found relocated to the mantelpiece in the following photograph.

A Panoramic View of the living room

Figure 1 Photographer John Williamson, Interior of Lounge room in Hamilton Victoria Australia viewpoint 1, circa 1959 [T318]

When did indoor plants become a thing? I was surprised to see the small indoor planter stand with a single plant in it. The bookcase holds boxes of slides reflecting mostly Johns but also Judy’s interest in photography.

Figure 2 Photographer John Williamson, Interior of Lounge room in Hamilton Victoria Australia viewpoint 2, circa 1959 [T319]
The room is mostly bare with solid furniture and very light curtains. The vinyl records are sitting on top of what could be a stereo player or the speaker to the stereo player on the other wall.  The photos on the wall in a cluster of buildings.

Figure 3 Photographer John Williamson, Interior of Lounge room in Hamilton Victoria Australia viewpoint 3, circa [T320]

There was no TV in these days, listening to the stereo; sitting in front of the fire and/or reading were ways to fill in the evenings after work and dinner.

18 comments:

  1. Interesting. No TV in 1959? We had a TV by 1956 and that was considered later than most. I used to base acceptance of babysitting jobs according to who had a TV and who didn't. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TVs were introduced in 1956 into Australia. They were probably quite expensive initially probably too expensive for a young couple not yet established.

      Delete
  2. Where I lived, stereos came after TV. Of course, monaural record players were earlier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must ask my mother (who's in the photo) more about her record player. I didn't realise that stereos and record players were different, although to be honest I had never given it much thought, Thanks for dropping by,

      Delete
  3. My father was an amateur photographer too and took thousands of photos of the family rooms. They were equally bare in the 1950s. I'm intrigued by the fireplace. Is that a common heating addition to Australian houses?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A fireplace would be consider a luxury these days but according to my mother electric radiators were too expensive to run which was the other alternative.

      Delete
  4. Interesting observation about possibly staging the room for the photo. You're making me think about houseplants. I don't know the answer, but in the 1970s they were really big business. Everyone I knew had a gazillion plants. It was like a competition to see who could find the most unusual and collect the widest variety.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And houseplants were all the rage in Victorian times as well. I think I've always had a few, and sometimes many! I think the photos are inside sleeves or behind plastic frames. Minimalist was modern!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always thought house plants were a modern thing, when I asked my mother she said they were all the rage and it was considered a thing of pride if you could keep your plants alive.

      Delete
  6. Another view: Staging rooms for photographs is big stuff when you're trying to sell a home. When we put our home on the market our realtor walked through the house with us advising us of what to rid the rooms of to make it easier for potential buyers to imagine their own furnishings there. Our garage because stacked high with things we removed from every room in the house, but it was worth the effort. Our home looked great in the ad photos and it sold quickly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose staging the photo was part of sending the message home to family that as a young couple they were doing fine.

      Delete
  7. I love the spare look of this room and the way the photographer worked with the lighting, a single subject and the room's accessories to create a mood. Nice that these photos appear casual, like a glimpse into daily life, with no grinning into the camera. You are fortunate to have these interior photos when so many were taken outdoors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I appreciated the photos until I blew them up and looked more carefully at them.

      Delete
  8. John did have a certain style & thought behind these photos.
    The way Judy places herself but ignores the camera.I mean,I quite like the fact she's not grinning & trying to 'hog' the view.
    It's also interesting that the decor is quite sparse ( most working class English interiors of the period would have been incredibly "busy" with nick-knacks and such like.....)Very uncluttered.
    John Done Good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John did put a lot of thought into his photographs, a collection of his work for the "Snowy Scheme" in the Christine Filiamundi collection at the National Museum of Australia http://collectionsearch.nma.gov.au/collections/Christine%20Filiamundi%20collection

      Delete
  9. Nice light in the rooms. These remind me of some my father took in the 1940s of my parents apartment in San Francisco. I like the way she is studiously ignoring the camera too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great pictures, thanks so much for sharing them.

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to leave a message