04 November, 2005

axel poignant photography

Artist's hand

Axel POIGNANT 1906–1986, England
Artist's hand 1941
Purchased 1984. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Axel Poignant emigrated to Australia from England in 1926 at the age of 20. He settled in Perth in 1934 and, through trips in regional Western Australia, became interested in the outback and Aboriginal culture. This photograph shows the hand of his friend Hal Missingham, a graphic artist and photographer. The lined hand, dirtied from working on their broken-down vehicle, is symbolic of the hard work required for survival in the Australian bush.
Axel Poignant Hawkesbury River postman with bottle horn c 1951   


A collection of photographs by Axel Poignant who travelled with the river
postman in 1951, documenting life on the Hawkesbury River.

Venue: Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, The Deerubbin Centre, 300 George Street,
Windsor, NSW
Exhibition dates: Until December 11 2005
more info

brooklyn bridge, hawkesbury river

The 1995 Eric Johnston Lecture was delivered by Roslyn Poignant and concerned her late husband Axel’s photographic trips to the Territory, in particular the making of the film Namatjira the painter in 1946, and his six week stay in Arnhem Land in 1952.
papers at the NLA

monash gallery of art photography collection

on the koori history website
(nb: warning - these pages contain images of deceased indigenous people)

"Encounter at Nagalarramba is a fraught, difficult and self-conscious account of a whitefella’s trip to the top end."
kevin murray
professional savages

In August 1882 the circus impresario P. T. Barnum called for examples of “all the uncivilized races in existence.” In response, the showman R. A. Cunningham shipped two groups of Australian Aborigines to the United States. They were displayed as “cannibals” in circuses, dime museums, fairgrounds, and other showplaces in America and Europe and examined and photographed by anthropologists. Roslyn Poignant tells the fascinating and often searing story of the transformation of the Aboriginal travelers into accomplished performers, professional savages who survived at least for a short time by virtue of the strengths they drew from their own culture and their individual adaptability. Most died somewhere on tour.

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