Residents of Australia and others familiar with its hardware stores will be wondering why the main picture in a review of a photographic gallery depicts a Mitre 10 hardware store. Well, it so happens that the Gabriel Gallery occupies most of the first floor of Butcher Roberts Mitre 10 store. To get to the gallery you have to walk through the store and ascend the narrow steep stairs at the back.
The primary focus of the gallery is a photographic collection featuring the work of Dr Charles Louis Gabriel, town doctor and amateur photographer from 1887 to his death in 1927. The collection comprises hundred of photographs of late 19th and early 20th century Gundagai providing a fascinating insight into life in a small country town at the turn of the century. Viewing the collection it quickly became obvious to me that the good Doctor had quite an eye for the beautiful ladies of Gundagai who feature heavily in the collection. They and others must have been intrigued or indeed nervous at simply being photographed given that photography was still in its infancy.
In addition to the streets, houses, shops, transport, sporting events, beautiful ladies and the general populace of Gundagai, many of the photos depict the hospital in which Gabriel worked, the nurses he worked with and his personal friends. One photograph on display shows Gabriel and his colleagues dressed in surgery wear performing a pretend operation in the local hospital.
All the photos were part of Gabriel’s private collection which lay hidden for many years after his death until Cliff Butcher, a local accountant, found around a thousand 4 inch glass negatives, many of which he donated to the National Library in Canberra. In addition to his photographs, part of Dr Gabriel’s library, his personal letters and other memorabilia including some of his medical instruments are also on display.
Items relating to poets associated with Gundagai – Henry Lawson (walking stick and his letters to Grace McManus who cared for him in 1920 at nearby Coolac), Banjo Patterson, Jim Grahame and Jack Moses (a signed copy of this book – Nine Mile from Gundagai) – are also displayed.
Well worth a visit.
9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday.
Address: Sheridan St
Directions: Located on the first floor of Butcher Roberts Mitre 10 Store