Overview of
this Section
 

For reasons outlined below, twenty professional and expert photographers, cinematographers and Australia's leading architectural renderer have enjoyed creating images of the house and its landscape.  Very kindly, they have given their approval for their works to be displayed in this section.  Please note that copyright is held on all of these images; for copyright details see General Information.  

• Photography.  The Fishwick house is unusual, to say the least.  Rare amongst Sydney houses, it is made of the beautiful local sandstone and, even to a casual viewer uninterested in architecture, its design is unconventional and arresting.  Internally, in every room and from every angle the viewer is confronted by unexpected structural elements, novel spatial arrangements and unique design features.  What is more, in designing the house Griffin chose to enhance the viewer’s experience through his use of light and colour which, of course, are the tools-of-trade of photography.  Given all this, it is not surprising that many professional photographers have enjoyed working in the house, delighting in its indirect lighting effects, extensive use of coloured and mirrored glass and unexpected view lines.

For convenience and to facilitate comparison of their images, the photographers' work is shown in three groups: Heritage Photography taken during or soon after the house's construction; Pre-Restoration Photography taken until 1997; and Recent Photography

• Artwork.  In some respects the house is difficult to capture photographically.  For example, in a powerful demonstration of his belief that the design of a structure must respond to its environment, Griffin sunk the building almost two metres into the sandstone platform on which it sat, whilst leaving  sections of the bedrock undisturbed so that they became integral to the building.  Such an idiosyncratic feature is, in fact, impossible to depict in photographs simply because no appropriate shooting sites exist.  For this reason, the owners commissioned Australia’s most prominent architectural artist, John Haycraft, to produce a watercolour panel of the house in the style of Marion Mahony Griffin.  A segment of this is featured on the site's Home page.  Other elements of Haycraft's work are shown below in the Artwork section.

• Film Documentaries.  Cinematographers have also enjoyed working in the house.  They have added advantages: not only can they pan around to capture the originality of Griffin’s spaces and the atmosphere of the house but they can illustrate what experts describe as his “progressions” – the effect created by deliberate changes in room height, intensity and colouring of light and the sense of discovery as the viewer moves through the house.  Four documentaries on the Griffins and Castlecrag have been filmed in the house and clips from these are included here.  It should also be mentioned that several radio documentaries have been recorded in the house; descriptions of these and some accessible audio clips are in the Books & Media section.

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Heritage Photography  1929 to 1935 

Since there is almost no detailed documentation of the processes followed in building the house, it is very fortunate that so many images taken during and soon after its construction have survived.  Pictures taken at this time by the following three photographers are not only important heritage items but proved to be valuable guides during the restoration process.  

 

Hermann Junge  1929 - 1933

The most extensive collection extant of early images of Castlecrag and its Griffin houses was assembled by Junge who was a commercial photographer and the Australian representative of Leica, the pioneering German manufacturer of high-quality cameras.  The Junge family lived in Griffin’s Mower house when the Fishwick house was being built and for a short time afterwards.  The collection includes 56 pictures of the house, taken during at least three visits.  These and Junge's other pictures of Castlecrag have a broader historic significance: Leica had perfected 35mm camera and film technology and completed its market testing just a few years earlier; Australia was one of their first launch markets. So these images were amongst the earliest produced in Australia using a technology which would be dominant for another seven decades.  The photographs shown are by courtesy of his grandson, Linden Junge, and the Walter Burley Griffin Society.

 

Leonard Cunningham  1930This is the only photograph known to exist which clearly shows the uncovererd fish pools set into the dining room roof.  It also shows Griffin’s clients, Thomas and Olive Fishwick, seated nearby.  Taken soon after the building was finished, it is reliably attributed to Leonard Cunningham Studios (Fayworth House 381 Pitt St. Sydney).  Research indicates that Cunningham was still working professionally in 1947.  The image is off an original print from Rod Power of Malvern, Victoria, who had worked with Cunningham; by courtesy of Marie Nicholls.

Rowland Herbert  1930

In 1926 Herbert became manager of Griffin’s Knitlock tile plant in Castlecrag.  A keen and proficient amateur photographer, he recorded the suburb’s development until the mid 1930s.  These images are by courtesy of the National Library of Australia and the NSW State Library.

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Pre-Restoration Photography  1962 to 1998  

From soon after its completion in the early 1930s, there are no photographic records of the house until the 1960s. During the 1940s and 1950s the condition of the house had progressively declined.  Nevertheless, we can see from the work of the following four photographers that its basic impact and intrinsic appeal were still able to be captured. Included are photographs taken by the heritage architect who supervised the house's restoration; these give an indication of the extent of the task.

    

Peter Wille   c1962

Wille was a prominent, admired and popular figure in the architectural community of Melbourne.  Its Centre for Contemporary Photography, Australia's premier venue for the exhibition of contemporary photo-based arts, says : he photographed 1950s and 60s architecture with a mad passion.  An architectural draftsman, he spent his weekends driving around Melbourne with his camera... He died tragically, hit by a truck as he stepped onto the road to take a photograph”.  The State Library of Victoria holds his collection of over 5,000 colour slides.  The Art Institute of Chicago also holds a small collection of his drawings traced from Griffin’s originals.

 

Max Dupain  1965

Dupain is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest modernist photographers.  His image Sunbaker in the National Gallery of Australia is a national icon and he was the pre-eminent photographer of Australian architecture for more than 50 years.  A resident of Castlecrag for the last 40 years of his life, he recorded its natural heritage and architecture extensively, particularly favouring the Griffin houses. 

 

Richard Miller  1971

Miller is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois.  This was formed in 1971, sparked by the threatened demolition of the Adler/Sullivan Chicago Stock Exchange building, which shamefully later occurred.  He visited Australia in that same year and photographed most of the prominent Griffin buildings, having a personal interest in the Prairie School architects.  His Fishwick house images are amongst the very few which show the house’s interior before its restoration.

 

Mati Maldre  1993

Professor Emeritus of Art and Photography at Chicago State University, Maldre is an eminent American architectural photographer and author and is on the Board of Directors of the Walter Burley Griffin Society of America.  He and Professor Paul Kruty produced Walter Burley Griffin in America, a ground-breaking, authoritative book which catalogues all of Griffin’s US work.  He visited the house in 1993 when it was rented out while the owners were overseas.

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John Tropman  1998

Tropman is a senior partner of Tropman and Tropman, a firm recognised internationally for its work in architecture, urban design and exhibitions.  His particular interest is in heritage conservation.  These photographs are important, being taken during the major restoration of the house.  He supervised not only some major repairs but also ensured redecoration was as close as possible to Griffin's original finishes by uncovering original paint colours and textures.

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Recent Photography   1998 - Present 

In many art forms is is not uncommon for a number of creative people to demonstrate their individual skills and different approaches by producing works on the same subject; however, in the case of architectural illustration this is rarely done, especially if a single house is the subject.  Here we have a fine opportunity to review examples of the pictures made by seven highly-skilled photographers who have produced portfolios on the Fishwick house following its restoration.  Their variety is remarkable.  On seeing the work of his fellow professionals, one commented that he knew of no other private residence in which so many experts had chosen to produce images or been commissioned to do so.    

 

Patrick Cummins  1998

As a professional photographer for more than 20 years, Cummins has worked extensively for major media groups in their editorial, corporate, industrial and travel sectors.  He was a staff photographer with The Sydney Morning Herald for many years and his work has been widely published internationally.

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Eric Sierins  1999

Sierins is a highly regarded architectural photographer whose work includes many of Australia’s most important and prominent houses and commercial buildings.  He was Max Dupain’s assistant for many years.  Following Dupain’s death in 1992 he bacame the sole owner of the business "Max Dupain and Associates" and managed its large, historical archive of commercial photographs.  He continues to record Australia's architecture.  Keenly aware of Dupain's interest in the house, these external images are from the first of his two photographic sessions in it.   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

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Willem Rethmeier  1999

A highly respected photographer of architecture, interiors and portraiture, Rethmeier’s work has appeared frequently in leading decorating and lifestyle magazines and books.  Private Sydney, a beautiful “coffee table” book, prominently features his images of the house.  As one of a series depicting outstanding residences in the world’s leading cities, it was released for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

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Patrick Bingham-Hall  2002

Bingham-Hall is one of Australia’s most eminent architectural photographers who now works out of Singapore and London.  As well as photographic commissions for others, he has written and published many books and articles on architecture and design through his own company "Pesaro Publishing" .  Three of these books feature descriptions and images of the Fishwick house.

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Simon Griffiths  2008

Judging from the more than 70 books for which Griffiths produced all the images, he is without doubt the photographer of choice for all of Australia’s and many of the world’s most famous and distinguished writers of books on gardening and cooking.  He has also written and illustrated under his own name.  He was the photographer for the two landscaping and gardening books which feature the Fishwick house:  Australian Gardens for a Changing Climate (Jenna Reed Burns) and Garden Voices (Anne Latreille). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

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Eric Sierins  2009

The era of digital photography has led to the advent of ultra wide-angle lenses.  A decade after his previous visit, Sierins again photographed the Fishwick house to examine the potential of using such a lens in order to depict better the house's large spaces.  This photo session was also in homage to his mentor, Max Dupain, who had created a set of his characteristic photographs nearly half a century earlier, limited by the lens technology of the day.

 

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Jason McCarthy  2010

McCarthy is a staff photographer with the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.  One of his photographs of the house is central to the museum’s "Landmarks" exhibition - a new permanent display on the country’s suburban development which features Castlecrag.  His personal photographs have won many awards and he was a finalist in the National Portrait Gallery’s 2010 Portrait Prize.  

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Alasdair McGregor  2015

An architect by profession, McGregor is an accomplished photographer as well as being a writer, painter and Antarctic tour guide.  He is the author or co-author of nine books, many on Australian historical figures including “Grand Obsessions: the life and work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin”.  This is considered the most thorough and authoritative biography of the Griffins and was the winner of Australia's 2011 National Biography Award.  His most recent biography is of Francis Greenway, Australia’s first government architect.  He has also published a book and curated a travelling exhibition on Frank Hurley, the photographer on Shackleton’s and Mawson’s Antarctic expeditions, who became a household name in Australia for his exploration and war images.

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Artwork 

Many of the expert photographers who have produced pictures of the house have said that some of its qualities are impossible to capture on film; the reasons are outlined in this section's introductory overview.  John Haycraft's watercolour panel and his stylised architectural elevation of the building were explicitly intended to overcome this problem.  He adapted some of the artwork he created to produce a variety of very useful images; one has pride of place on a nostalgic mug produced for the owners' now adult children who grew up in the house.  

 

John Haycraft  2013

A highly talented watercolourist whose first love is drawing, Haycraft is Australia’s pre-eminent architectural illustrator.  Amongst his clients are many large, internationally respected architectural practices.  He has held three exhibitions and published several books of his work.  Many of his architectural drawings are archived in the NSW state government's Mitchell Library.  He continues to produce and teach fine art and is represented in private collections around the world. 

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Film Documentaries 

Apart from the difficulty involved in squeezing their gear-carrying trucks into its tight streetfront, producers of documentaries say they have been delighted to film in the house.  It has generally played three roles for them: as the backdrop for interviews and discussions when they were exploring the lives and works of the Griffins; as an attention-getting and intriguing "vehicle" which served to introduce the audience to his ideas and principles in a graphic manner; and as an excellent source of many examples of his creativity and inventiveness - some decidedly quirky. These roles are well-demonstrated in the following four film clips.  

 

Castlecrag  1998  Powerhouse Museum Sydney

This film was produced as part of the Powerhouse Museum’s exhibition “Beyond Architecture” which reviewed the Australian work of the Griffins.  It was very successful, running from July 1998 to May 1999.  Sponsored by the City of Sydney, the exhibition and associated book “presented many new and exciting perspectives on the work of these two remarkable architects”.  The half-hour documentary was shown continuously at the exhibition through looped screening; many of its interviews and residential scenes were filmed in the house.  

Video clip: 4min 47sec 

City of Dreams  2000  Film Australia

Produced for general TV broadcasting, this documentary explored "the Griffins’ collaboration, their struggle with unyielding bureaucracy, the philosophies that underscored their life and work, and their passionate commitment to an architecture that expressed a balance between society and the environment and an affinity between the human spirit and the natural world”.  Much of the filming was done in the house.

Video clip: 53sec 

 

Going Native Garden  2002  Lifesyle Home

Well-known landscape architect, film producer and presenter of TV programmes featuring "makeover" landscaping and gardening, Brendan Moar made and hosted this documentary for the Lifestyle Channel.  Its opening segment covered the re-design and regeneration of the house's garden and neighbouring reserves.  In particular, it featured interviews with Pamela Batters who had played a major role in the choice, planting and cultivation of its native garden.  Four years later, Moar wrote an article on the garden for the "Inside Out" magazine based on his previous interviews with Batters and included still photographs taken at the time by well-known garden photographer Michael Wee. 

 Video clip: 3min 22 sec

 

 Building Australia  2013  Bearcage with Screen Australia

This six-part series produced in conjunction with the History Channel with assistance from the National Trust was funded through Screen Australia's National Documentary Programme.  It was broadcast in August 2013 and used "the history of individual houses as a way to explore the architectural and social history of Australia”.  The Fishwick house and one other were chosen to represent the arrival of modern architecture in Australia in the early 20th century.  The house was positioned as demonstrating fresh local thinking and rejection of derivative traditions; it exemplified “Griffin’s Utopian visions for the ideal Australian residential community”.  

 Video clip: 53s 

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