Photographer Henry Beaufoy Merlin and his assistant Charles Bayliss arrived in Gulgong in the winter of 1872 and now 150 years on we celebrate their work with an exhibition to be held in the Museum theatrette, ‘Gulgong Then & Now‘. This exhibition will will feature a selection of wet plates by Adrian Cook and will be held in June 2022 including the Gulgong Henry Lawson Festival.
The collodion photographic process was developed in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer and used by Merlin, Bayliss and Holtermann in the 1870’s to photograph the goldfields, businesses, people and landscapes. This process has once again become popular amongst photographers like Adrian Cook in their quest for perfection.
Adrian Cook is a talented photographer specialising in wet plate collodion photography in Leichhardt, NSW. His 21st Century work environments highlight the tremendous effort that was required by Merlin, Bayliss and Holtermann in the 1870’s to complete this photographic process whilst working within extreme gold rush conditions.
Much like Merlin and Bayliss during the gold rush days with their horse drawn mobile cart, Adrian has set up a mobile darkroom in a 1950’s caravan and travels Australia to capture his unique landscape photographs. Adrian also works from his well set up studio in Leichhardt where he photographs his portraits and more recently his COVID-19 lockdown landscapes.
It is a wonder that Merlin and his fellow photographers were able to capture their scenes and portraits on the gold fields with such detail, whilst working with harsh chemicals and under such difficult conditions. When one gets to see Adrian at work with the complex wet plate collodion process, one appreciates how difficult it must have been working within a horse-drawn cart in such a limited space.
This photographic process has had a huge resurgence over the past few years and Adrian will be visiting the Gulgong Holtermann Museum for future workshops and portrait sittings.
A freelance videographer & photographer, John Young, based in Sydney, has produced a video which features the craft of wet plate collodion photography, mastered by Adrian Cook. This video highlights Adrian’s photographic creativity whilst working in the confines of his Leichhardt studio during the COVID-19 lockdown.
To learn more about Adrian and his passion for the photography and John Young’s videography please click on the logos for links to their websites below.