For the first ten years of his career, Oswald Ziegler had been increasing the photographic content of his work as well as incorporating contemporary design in the illustrative layout. The die for his future use of photography in promotion was cast at the end of this decade.
This watershed publication was Romance in Paradise, published in 1938, seemingly for the Government of New South Wales.12 Its content is a portfolio of the state’s tourist potential. Despite the modernistic layout of the images, the photography owes more to the Pictorialist style that the contemporary commercial style that Ziegler was to commission for his promotional publications after 1940.
The ideal tourists’ New South Wales of the late thirties is a predominately sylvan countryside. Water recreation, from rowing on Lake Parramatta to yachting on Sydney Harbour, is also popular. The images selected favour forest and isolation. Isolation, a desirable antithesis to city living, one presumes, was the result of the motor car. The sites shown in Romance in Paradise were mostly places accessible by road and were (or were close to) established tourist centres. The title suggests a post-depression passion for outdoor activity encouraged by the increased mobility of the time. Romance in Paradise also conveys an appreciation of the sublime, always an important factor to Australia’s natural landmarks.
The captions to the images identify the subject in enthusiastic, albeit rather clichéd and flowery, tones. Romance in Paradise suffers consequently from quaintness. Its aesthetic salvation is the dynamic design and a studied combination of wilderness and human interest in the photography.
The tourist-centred approach of Romance in Paradise is missing from Ziegler’s 1960 promotion for New South Wales. New South Wales – A State of Prosperity deals less with tourism in favour of potential investment. By 1960, capitalising on Australia’s new industrial wealth was as important as tourism had been during the sesquicentennial year. The design of the book and choice of photographs for New South Wales – A State of Prosperity is more formal than Romance in Paradise. The captions of the 1960 book are more concerned with statistics than idyllic or sublime prose.
The pattern set by Romance in Paradise was followed by two strands of Ziegler’s oeuvre. The urban centre promotions concentrated more on photography while the provincial promotions endeavoured to display the region in text as well as story. Discussions on the evolution of these books follow.
| #10: The cover of Romance in Paradise, 1938. Collection of the Mitchell Library.
|#11: Views of Stanwell Park and Jenolan Caves from Romance in Paradise, 1938. Collection of the Mitchell Library.
- The Publishers of Romance in Paradise, Barnard & Diedrichs, were based in Challis House, Martin Place, Sydney. This building also served as the headquarters of the New South Wales Tourist Bureau.