A once ignored, recently discovered body of work from an aspiring photographer nearly five-decades ago offers an fresh glimpse into mid-century Melbourne.
In the late 1960s, high school teacher Angus O’Callaghan spent his spare time walking the streets of Melbourne. Armed with a Yashicaflex medium format camera, he captured the city’s street scenes, people, architecture and events.
O’Callaghan’s goal was to have a book published of his work. When a series of publishers failed to express interest in his work, he went back to teaching, his photographs archived and subsequently forgotten for decades to come.
In 2006, O’Callaghan’s wife found his archive. A few years later in 2009, he and auctioneer Ben Albrecht met at a primary school fundraising event. Quickly becoming a champion of O’Callaghan’s work, Albrecht helped bring his images to a new generation and a newly appreciative audience. Now, more than four decades on and at the age of 92, O’Callaghan’s original endeavour to see his shots form a photography book has come to fruition.
A selection of his archive has also formed an exhibition At Dusk, Under the Clocks, at Melbourne Town Hall’s City Gallery space. Here, O’Callaghan’s moody, large-scale prints shine a subdued light on a Melbourne that was rapidly changing from ‘marvellous’ Victorian to ‘modern’. Taken between 1968 and 1971, the atmosphere of the city is tangible, with recognisable icons such as Flinders Street Station making it feel as if nothing has changed – while long disappeared shop signage, neon cigarette billboards and the much maligned Gas and Fuel towers all show just how much has.
At Dusk Under the Clocks
Until April 21
City Gallery, Melbourne Town Hall