Family photo reunion

‘Unidentified’ no longer

Imagine visiting an exhibition and discovering a photograph of yourself and your family that you had never seen before.

When Virginia Bower, nee Murray, visited the Street Photography exhibition with her daughter in April she was surprised and delighted to discover on display a photograph of herself with her sister and mother that had been taken 69 years ago, when she was just 17. Remarkably, this photograph, part of a collection of 5000 unidentified photos taken by the Sydney photography firm Ikon Studio, was among only a small selection reproduced for the exhibition. Once Virginia contacted us, we went back to the collection and found a second photo of the trio.

Taken in 1950 outside the Prudential Building at 39–49 Martin Place, the photograph brought back memories for Virginia:

 Black and white street photograph of three women linking arms standing in the street.
Virginia Murray (right) with her sister Dolores Murray and mother Esther Murray, Martin Place, Sydney. Ikon Studio, 1950. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

It was school holidays and we were on our way to the Commonwealth Bank, on the corner of Pitt Street and Martin Place, which mum visited every Tuesday to draw her housekeeping money as Dad was often away at sea. Dolores was about 13, and was wearing a candy-striped dress. Mum would have been wearing a navy floral dress and accessories; she always wore kid gloves. I was 17, sitting for the Leaving Certificate, wearing a grey and blue knitted jumper and skirt. The badges we had on were our school badges, SCC (St Clare’s College, Waverley); we may have been to a school luncheon.

The unknown Ikon Studio street photographer took a second, head-and-shoulders portrait of the Murray family:

Black and white street photograph of three women linking arms walking down the street.
Virginia Murray (right) with her sister Dolores Murray and mother Esther Murray, Martin Place, Sydney. Ikon Studio, 1950. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

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