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John Sharkey

The First Official Government Photographer

NSW Government Printing Office  1869 - 1896


Main reference: The Dictionary of Australian Artists. 1992 Edited by Joan Kerr

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New South Wales (NSW) Government photographer, photolithographer and printer.

Sharkey was employed as a copperplate printer in the New South Wales government Department of Works around 1863. He adapted J W Osborne's photolithographic process to invent his own form of photolithography for which he was rewarded in 1869 by being made manager of the NSW Governmnet Printing Office's photolithographic branch. The results of his photolithographic processess were praised in the local press.

Sharkey (and staff of seven) were official photographers to the 1870 Intercolonial Exhibition and as such photographed all the exhibition buildings and exhibitions. (By 1889, his staff numbered 21)

Sharkey photographed Sydney's streets and buidlings, often using a wide angle lens.

Sharkey's photographs (as the NSW Government printing Office) were shown at the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition. Included was a panorama of Sydeny, being from Dawes Point to Lady Macquarie's Chair. Sharkey also took a set of photographs of the whole exhibition.

the office was represented in various printing media at the 1887 Adelaide jubilee International Exhibition. included were photographs of Jenolan Caves and an 8ft panorama of Sydney taken from the top of the Government Printer's Office.

Collection of negatives : The Sharkey Collection of the NSW Government Printing Office - held at the Mitchell Library in Sydney.

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