lunedì 1 luglio 2013


Hedda Hammer Morrison (1908-1991) took thousands of photographs to document Peking/Beiping, the old imperial capital, and the lives of its people, during a thirteen-year period of residence from 1933 to 1946. Born in Stuttgart in 1908, Hedda studied photography at the Bavarian State Institute for Photography in Munich and in 1933 left Germany, which was coming increasingly under Nazi control. She secured a job in Peking as manager of Hartung's Photo Shop, a commercial studio with a well-established clientele of diplomats and resident foreigners. After her contract there expired she continued to work as a freelance photographer.
In 1946, Hedda married Alastair Morrison (b.1915), the son of Dr George Ernest Morrison (1862-1920), Peking correspondent for The Times of London and later political advisor to Yuan Shikai, the first president of the Chinese Republic. G.E. Morrison was himself an enthusiastic photographer and his photographs have recently been published (see Shen Jiawei, ed., Old China through G E Morrison's eyes, Fuzhou: Fujian Jiaoyu Chubanshe, 2005, 3 vols).
Writing in 1992 Alastair remembers Hedda, 'Ranging around the great city on her bicycle, always with her Rolleiflex camera strung around her neck, she never lacked subjects to photograph. Apart from a wide range of architectural studies she was especially interested in crafts and the everyday activities of people'.

Hedda Hammer at The Great Wall of China, 1941. Photograph reproduced courtesy of Alastair Morrison.

Hedda Hammer Morrison's photographs contribute to the images taken by professional and amateur photographers in the period leading up to the establishment of the People's Republic of China, a remarkable archive that documents a changing China. Images taken by non-Chinese photographers are often regarded as self-conscious constructions, created through the choice and presentation of subject matter and primarily intended for a Western audience. Over the past sixty years, however, the archives of non-Chinese photographers have become more significant than the photographers themselves could have envisaged, as part of the historical record.
Hedda Hammer Morrison worked alongside Chinese photographers. Through their professional work and their passion for photography, Chinese and non-Chinese photographers alike created images that document the past with great clarity and in considerable detail. Photographers are especially attuned to the very particular qualities and characters of people and places. They have preserved for posterity thin slices of space and time. As China experiences ever increasing modernisation and change, aspects of cultural heritage—both tangible and intangible—can be re-imagined, reclaimed or even restored from such images. [Claire Roberts]

clip_image003Young Mother Carrying A Child On Her Back In The Market, Hong Kong Island (1946)

clip_image005House Interior Showing A Woman At A Brick Stove, A Bucket & A Ladle Made From A Gourd In The Lost Tribe Country (1936)

clip_image007House Interior Showing Woman With Bound Feet Tending A Stove In The Lost Tribe Country (1936)

clip_image009Produce & Wares From Shops Along The Sides Of A Typical Backstreet, Western District, Hong Kong Island (1946)

clip_image011Pedestrians & Vendors On Pottinger Street, A Stepped Street, Central District, Hong Kong Island (1946)

clip_image013Fisher Families With Junks In Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong Island (1946)

clip_image015Seated Man Amid Baskets Of Fish & Hanging Dried Fish, Eastern Districts, Hong Kong Island (1946)

‘The Bird Fancier’, photograph by Hedda Morrison, Peking, 1933-46. Reproduced courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

Pottinger Street, Hong Kong 1946 by Hedda Morrison

Hedda Morrison 2 Hedda Morrison 1Hedda Morrison 3 Hedda Morrison 4 Hedda Morrison 5 Hedda Morrison 6 Hedda Morrison 8Hedda Morrison 9
All images  © Hedda Morrison

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