Henri Mallard (1884-1967) Photographer
David Moore (1927-2003) Printer
Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge series 1928-1932
gelatin silver photograph
negatives donated by Paul Mallard, 1975
Australian Centre for Photography Collection
Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge
An Australian Centre for Photography Touring Exhibition
On 19 March 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened to the public.
Photographic supply store worker and amateur photographer, Henri Mallard, set himself the daunting task of documenting the momentous and historic construction of The Sydney Harbour Bridge. One of the few photographers permitted to ascend its heights, Mallard focused on the engineers, dogmen, riveters and labourers who risked their lives daily.
In 1975 Paul Mallard discovered a collection of negatives in a trunk stored in a backyard shed. They revealed a unique record of the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, made by his father Henri Mallard. In 1976, the Australian Centre for Photography commissioned the celebrated documentary photographer David Moore (1927-2003), to print this set of modern gelatin silver photographs.
Mallard's photographs of the Bridge were intentional historical documents, a detailed record that may never have been made without his persistence. The Chief Engineer initially refused permission on safety grounds, but the Director of Construction finally gave Mallard access to all areas. From 1928 to 1932, he was a regular visitor to the site, taking hundreds of stills as well as documenting in film with a compact moving image camera.
The images convey the modernism and innovation that inspired awe and admiration amongst the public and celebrate one of the truly great engineering feats of the 20th century.
About the artist (b. 1884)
Henri Mallard was born to French immigrant parents in Sydney (1884). He worked at Harrington’s, a photographic supply store in George Street which was a competitor to Kodak. Starting as a junior office boy he became General Manager and spent his entire working life there retiring in 1951.
Mallard enthusiastically tested the latest equipment and was a keen amateur photographer and exhibitor continually advocating for photography. Living at Mosman on the North Shore he travelled to Circular Quay daily by ferry where the water of the harbour was an ever-present experience.
His bridge photographs captured a monumental civil engineering project which live on in his images and allow us access to a defining time in Australian urban development.
Henri Mallard died in Balmain, 1967
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