Andrew Turner
Andrew Turner

Turning back time

SOUTHSIDE'S Andrew Turner was not afraid to take the Now and Then challenge, to turn his camera into the nearest thing we have to a time machine.

The Now and Then project is an ABC Open photography exercise that appealed straight away to the modest Gympie Camera Club president.

"I'm a bit of a novice really," said the now-published photographer, whose work commemorates Gympie, present and past.

The challenge, as ABC Open describes it, is to "create a window into the past by photographing an old photo in its current setting".

The results, displayed on this page, are striking and almost spooky in the way they bring the far distant past to life again.

This project might have been made for Gympie, with its many historic buildings dating back to the gold rush.

"By holding a historic image in its present-day location and rephotographing it, you can create a window into past events and the lives of people who've stood on the same ground as you," ABC Open says.

"It's a fun technique and a great way to re-imagine old photos and shine a new light on places you know."

The series of photographs began in late 2010 and resulted in more than 1000 contributions from all over Australia, none of them more eye-catching than Mr Turner's contributions.

His pictures include views, now and then, of various streetscapes in Mary St and the nearby Surface Hill church.

Mr Turner says he enjoyed the challenge and the chance to use his Canon camera.

The project has captivated people all round Australia as ABC Open producer Anthony Scully works with contributors, like Mr Turner, in sometimes challenging regional circumstances.

An ABC Open spokesman said the project was inspired by the flickr group, which had a project, Looking into the Past.

The technique of holding an old photograph against a background of contemporary reality was developed by that organisation.

Mr Turner says an extra thrill is the exposure his work and our city have experienced through the project.

His pictures include one taken from the Royal Hotel, looking up Mary St towards Channon St, one looking down Mary St from near The Gympie Times office, in 1905, when Gympie was still a gold-mining boom town.

A third photograph depicts Gympie's celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

It's all been a thrilling exercise for Mr Turner and for the ABC Open people associated with the Australia-wide project.

Another thrill is the possibility that Mr Turner's work may even be among items displayed in a museum or two around the nation, with the Museum of Sydney already planning a national exhibition.

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