This exhibition celebrates the visiting Gulgong wet plate photographers, Henry Beaufoy Merlin and Charles Bayliss 1870s and Adrian Cook 2020s.

Photographer Henry Beaufoy Merlin and his assistant Charles Bayliss arrived in Gulgong in the winter of 1872 and over 150 years later we celebrate their work with an exhibition in the Museum theatrette; ‘Imaginary Landscapes’. This exhibition features a selection of wet plates by Adrian Cook, videos created by the State Library of NSW and David Fannan and celebrates the works of Three Gulgong visiting wet plate photographers, Merlin and Bayliss in the 1870s and Adrian Cook in the 2020’s.

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 among photographers like Adrian Cook in their quest for perfection.

Adrian Cook is a talented photographer specialising in wet plate collodion photography. His 21st Century work environment highlights 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.

Adrian Cook Photography – 1950s caravan converted to mobile darkroom

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 1950s caravan and travels Australia to capture his unique landscape photographs. 

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.