1882 - 1980
Cathcart Deck was born in Sydney and was introduced to photography
by his elder brother in 1894. A teacher at Sydney
Grammar School gave
Deck further instruction and by 1896 he became the youngest member
ever of the Photographic Society of New South Wales. He began exhibiting
around 1903 and by 1904 was a regular lecturer at society meetings.
In 1905 Deck won a gold medal at the annual salon for a picture entitled “When
Two Paths Meet”.
1906 Deck graduated in dentistry from Sydney University. He practised
first in Cowra, New South Wales and then
in Queensland, before returning
in 1909 to share a practice in Sydney with his brother. The same
year Deck took his camera on a bicycling trip around the South
New Zealand. He made a second trip in 1911.
well as serving as an officer of the Photographic Society of New
South Wales, Deck was
also active in his own local Ashfield
Camera Club. In 1912 his work was sufficiently distinguished
for his one-man show to be held at the photographic supply firm of
Sydney. The following year, after a visit to the Solomon Islands,
Deck decided to join his brother and sister there in mission
took up his own mission work in 1914 and served in the Islands through
two world wars, until his retirement in 1948.
conditions made photographing in the Islands difficult but
Deck managed to continue,
particularly during furloughs. On one visit home in 1921 the
Sydney Camera Circle made him an honorary member in recognition
quality of his work.
style was inspired by the pictorialists at the turn of the century
who worked in a manner
derived from the tonal impressionism
of Whistler. In particular they favoured ethereal and romantic
images with delicate tonal gradation and decorative lines.
Deck was one of
the most faithful exponents of this style in Australia — even
in retirement he produced images of Australia as an arcady
of mist and luminous light.
of Deck’s prints were
lost in the tropics and it was not until retirement that
he was able to reprint his early work. The
new prints differed in appearance, as many of the old printing
gone off the market. The negatives have since been donated
to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and show how assured
- even before the extensive print manipulations which went
into the original prints.
based on Gaël Newton's Silver & Grey
Angus and Roberston, Australia 1980
a bend in the road
Upper Dailing Harbour