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Negative depicting a woman modeling swimwear

Date: 1954
Overall: 163 x 118 mm
Medium: Negative
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Leigh Purcell
Object Name: Negative
Object No: ANMS1405[167]

User Terms

    These negatives were taken by Gervaise Purcell (1919 - 1999) from the 1940s to the 1960s. He worked as a commercial photographer for the Monte Luke Studio in Sydney before opening his own studio in 1952. His images of swimwear for clients including swimwear manufactures such as Jantzen and retailers David Jones and Hordern Bros, blended modernity with Australian beach culture, carefree leisure and a touch of luxury.

    Purcell was responsible for all aspects of the fashion shoot from photography to selecting the props, locations and hiring the models. In the 1950s he used a Graflex Crown Graphic camera and flash gun mounted on a tripod which took large format sheet film. While on location only two or three exposures could be taken of each swimsuit as film stock was vulnerable to damage by the elements. After the shoot the images would be proofed and retouched if necessary for the client to make their final selection.
    SignificanceThese photographic negatives were taken by Australian commercial photographer Gervaise Purcell from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. They represent his work for clients such as swimwear manufacturer Jantzen, as well as retail giants David Jones and Hordern Brothers, cruise ship operators the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), radio technology manufacturer Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (AWA) and tourism operator Ansett Airways. Many of the images were taken with a Graflex Crown Graphic camera in the 1950s.
    HistoryGervaise Churchill Purcell was born on 2 November 1919 of McMahons Point in Sydney and became interested in photography from the age of about 12 while attending North Sydney Boy's High School where he took photographs for the school magazine.

    During the 1930s, Gervaise’s passion for photography was nurtured by his uncle and amateur photographer Theo Purcell, who encouraged the teenager to use his darkroom. Gaining employment at the Sydney office of John Lee from Studio Sun of London, England in 1938, he was recruited for his ability to print both black and white photographs as well as colour.

    In 1940, Gervaise enlisted in the Militia or Citizen Military Forces at North Sydney, more recently known as the Australian Army Reserve. Within a year he was seconded by the army to work in Canberra under a Professor William Dakin, Director of the Defence Central Camouflage Committee. In Canberra Gervaise join an elite group of famous artists and photographers, Sydney Ure Smith, Max Dupain and Frank Hinder researching and experiment with various camouflage methods.

    In 1943, Gervaise was transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force bases in Townsville, Queensland, Darwin and the Northern Territory. In the same year, The Canberra Times featured articles on his first solo exhibition which he had initiated to raise money for the Prisoners-of-War Fund featuring colour prints of land and seascapes and portraits of animals and children. After the war, Gervaise was recruited by Monte Luke before he decided to set up his own studio in 1952 in Underwood Street, Sydney.

    From the late 1940s, Gervaise focused his career on fashion photography often his photographs would appear in publications such as the 'Australian Women’s Weekly'. Gervaise also worked on other commissions involving maritime links to the swimwear manufacturer, Jantzen and the cruise ship operators, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). He also worked for retailing giants David Jones and Hordern Brothers, radio technology manufacturer Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (AWA) and tourism operator Ansett Airways.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Negative depicting a woman modeling swimwear

    Collection title: Gervaise Purcell photographic collection

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