Nerida Campbell – Curator, Historic Houses Trust
My passion for history was triggered by childhood holidays spent at my grandmother’s farm where I would rifle through chests filled with generations of family photographs, clothing and things I still can’t identify. I studied history at the University of Sydney and am interested in the history of Sydney and in particular the darker, criminal side of the city’s story. I like to research stories about people and how their lives have shaped, or been shaped by, the place in which they live. I feel privileged to work with Trust’s amazing collections as I find something magical about ‘real’ objects and the history they represent. I have curated exhibitions on female criminals, regional police stations and am currently researching bushranging.
Holly Schulte – Curator Digital Assets, Historic Houses Trust
As the Curator Digital Assets with the Historic Houses Trust of NSW (HHT) I combine my interests in photography, history and digital imaging technologies. In 2002 my long-standing passion for photography led me to the cultural heritage industry where I have since played a central role in the digitisation of diverse collections for interpretation, access and preservation purposes. Since joining the HHT in 2006, I have been fortunate to work closely with a unique police-created negative archive held at the Justice and Police Museum. Viewing this fascinating material on the light box is the first stage in a layered process that provides visual access to the negatives and deepens our knowledge of Sydney’s history, and how these photographs worked as a vital resource for the police and prison departments. Over time, each piece of this vast puzzle, comprising an estimated 130 000 negatives, is being assessed, assembled, understood, unearthed, repackaged, scanned and investigated to reveal a fascinating history of crimes, people and places, accidents and tragedies.
Ross Gibson – ACCIDENT MUSIC
I am a writer and audio-visual artist with a long-running devotion to Sydney. After working on projects at the Museum of Sydney in the mid-1990s, I began investigating the forensic photos in the Loft. From the first day, I was mesmerised. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with the collection over an extended period of time.
If you go fossicking in the archive for long enough — say for a dozen years, as I have done — you accrue thousands of feasible but contestable stories concerning the everyday spaces of your life, and you begin to feel quick rushes of emotion pulsing between you and your city. This is how ACCIDENT MUSIC has come about. It is just one of a dozen artworks and installations that have arisen from my research in the archive. These projects are all part of a suite known collectively as ‘Life After Wartime’ which have been produced since 1998, mainly in collaboration with Kate Richards.
ACCIDENT MUSIC is simple enough. I make a weekly post concerning a town you know well. In this town sunrise hustles fresh air in from the ocean, a day spent near the harbour gives the full history of radiance, and at night you can hear accident music in fog horns and pilot bells.
Every Sunday night I will select a new image and supply three breath-short captions or ‘mutant haikus’ that evoke some qualities in the picture. Week by week a mesh of images and texts builds up and gathers the city I love.
Peter Doyle – Author
Subject: Peter Doyle. Middle-aged white male. Works (rarely) as a bar-useful, taxi driver, author of pulp crime novels, “researcher” and university lecturer. A native of Sydney. Was respectably brought up but wasted his youth reading spy novels and penny dreadfuls. Gravitates naturally to bad companions, and is sometimes seen in dives frequented by beatniks. Unconfirmed reports assert that he is a fair-to-middling slide and steel guitar player. Has won the Ned Kelly Crime Fiction Award twice (the subject of a continuing Fraud Squad investigation). Has been known to pose as a musicologist, a saw-doctor, a shoddy dropper and practitioner of “bloodless surgery”. Since 2001 has fostered an association with the Justice & Police Museum, whose gullible staff he apparently persuaded to allow him to “curate” two exhibitions (“Crimes of Passion” and “City of Shadows”). He has authored two major publications in connection with that museum: City of Shadows (2005, with Caleb Williams) and Crooks Like Us (2009). Continues to show an unhealthy interest in archives and material culture, from which he apparently “gets his kicks”. In short, an unregenerate thimblerigger and quacksalver who will stop at nothing to further his nefarious enterprises. No visible marks or scars.