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BCA News: Spring 2017

130 Years of Continuous Photographic Education in Australia

The Working Men’s College was established in 1887 in Melbourne to provide education opportunities for Melbourne’s ‘working people’. Its motto was “Perita manus, mens exculta” – a skilled hand, a cultivated mind.

The Working Men’s College became the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1960 and RMIT University in 1992. Throughout the University’s existence, photography has been a part of the academic curricula. Photo education for the disciplines of engineering and applied science has primarily existed at RMIT for 130 years, with commercial and fine art photography following in later years.

In 1887 Ludivico Hart was appointed the first instructor in photography at the Working Men's College. Photography was extremely popular from the outset with both men and women creating a student gender balance. This has continued throughout the 130 years of photographic education at RMIT University.

Ludivico’s passion for photography inspired him to establish The Melbourne Camera Club in 1891. It is one of the oldest photographic clubs in Australia and is still running today. The essence of photography is in Melbourne’s DNA and its photographic culture continues to thrive.

Gale Spring (FBPA) with his photograph ‘High speed ballistic study’ at the opening of the exhibition.

Many photographic educators have followed in Ludivico’s footsteps. In 1988, Gale Spring (FBPA) immigrated to Australia to take up the role of Program Leader in the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.App.Sc.) Photography undergraduate and post graduate programs. Gale developed and expanded the programs producing graduates working in many industries around the world. Although now predominantly retired, Gale still teaches a biomedical and forensic photography course at RMIT and holds an adjunct position in the School of Science, Department of Physics.

Gale was honored to be involved in the public programs panel discussion 130 Years of Photography and the exhibition Photography 130: Behind the Lens – 130 Years of Photography.

Behind the Lens: 130 years of photography at RMIT

History of RMIT

Kodak and Its Role in Photography in Australia

When people hear ‘Kodak’ they think of George Eastman and Rochester, New York. But in 1884, Thomas Baker started the Austral Plate Company and ran it from his house in Abbotsford, Victoria (an inner suburb of Melbourne). His company, Baker and Rouse, communicated with George Eastman and became the sole agents importing Kodak products to supplement their manufacturing. In 1908, a merger between the two companies created Australia Kodak Limited.

The production of photographic supplies began early in Australia and Kodak established its presence in 1908 eventually becoming Kodak Australasia P/L who supplied light sensitive materials throughout the Asia Pacific Region and extended to Europe as well. Kodak Australia closed their manufacturing plant in Coburg, Victoria (an outer suburb of Melbourne) in 2002 after 96 years of operation.

Click to read an article on the history of photography and Kodak in Australia.

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