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Detail from Self Portrait

Self Portrait [52 K]

Edna Walling was a keen and accomplished photographer. Her photography is painterly and romantic and her eye for structure is reflected in the sensitive composition of the images.


Sonning Piazza from Sitting Room

Walling was a passionate photographer, professionally and artistically. She used a twin lens Rolleiflex, a camera for professionals. She established her own darkroom at her home in Bickleigh Vale and later at her final residence Bendles in Buderim, Queensland.

Walling left an extensive photographic collection. The Edna Walling Collection at the State Library of Victoria holds over 4,500 images. Examples of her work are also held by the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Library of Australia and in private collections.

Sonning Piazza from
Sitting Room
[88 K]


Walling sought to 'create pictures' both in her garden designs and photography. When moved by the beauty of a scene or an object, her immediate and natural response was to reach for her camera.

Walling did not simply document what she saw - her photographs told stories. She preferred black and white film to capture the essence of her subjects, and soft focus to create impressionistic photographs.

' I have never been afflicted with a mania for colour film: capturing the light in a picture seems so much more worthwhile. '
Girl in Adult Dress Up
Girl in Adult Dress Up [51 K]


Pictorialism, as a photographic movement, began in England in the late 19th century. Pictorialists were concerned with specific moments of time, space and atmosphere and believed that the sharp focus of the camera was not true to natural vision. Among the most significant Australian pictorialist photographers are John Kauffmann (1865-1942), Harold Cazneaux (1878-1953), Ruth Hollick (1833-1977), and Jack Cato (1889-1971).


Many of her photographs illustrate her books ("Gardens in Australia" in 1943, "Cottage and Garden in Australia" in 1947, "A Gardener's Log" in 1948 and "The Australian Roadside" in 1952), and her many articles in journals like "Australian Home Beautiful".

Of the photographs that appear in "Gardens in Australia", Trisha Dixon (author of several books on Walling) says:

' How different from any other garden book of the post-war period! While Edna Walling's photography captures the magic of each setting, images used in garden publications of this era tend to be flat, lifeless and without thought to composition, light or artistry... '
"Gardens in Australia: Their Design and Care",
2nd. facsim. ed. Bloomings Books, Hawthorn, Victoria 1999
introduction by Trisha Dixon


Walling also used her photos as Christmas and New Year cards for her friends.


Handmade New Year's card sent to Daphne Pearson and Mervyn Davis
Handmade New Year's card sent to Daphne Pearson and Mervyn Davis
from Walling's home in Buderim, Queensland.
The photograph, by Edna Walling, is titled "A Little Track on Koscuisko" [sic]


' Personally this Christmas I have excelled myself! Heather, that charming [...?] who filled in some of her vacation helping me one way and another, including making cards from photographs of which I seemed to have innumerable prints, was not satisfied until they went into envelopes with pencilled initials where the stamp would go. '


Landscapes and Gardens


Sundial, 'Mawarra'
Sundial, 'Mawarra' [88 K]

On photographing gardens Walling said:

' Garden subjects are not easy, are they? There must be plenty of white flowers, and some clear cut piece of construction to make a success of a garden photograph, unless, of course, one is very expert and possessed of light filters and other gadgets that do help with difficult pictures. '
"Letters to Garden Lovers", "Australian Home Beautiful", April 1937


Walling traveled extensively around Australia, especially the eastern states, documenting the landscape, flora and fauna she encountered. She recorded roadside plantings and the effects of erosion, and used these photographs to lend strength to her arguments for the conservation of the natural landscape.

Erosion Near Dry Creek Bed
Erosion Near Dry Creek Bed
[91 K]
People and Pets
' Bill likes to squat in the back doorway when the door is ajar. In this position he holds the fort. Skipper [her dog] will spend hours on the paving outside working out which side of him has the most room and appears the least dangerous '
Steve and Tiger at Bendles

Steve and Tiger at Bendles
[56 K]

Blyth Spirit and Woman Holding Cat

Edna Walling was also interested in portraiture. She photographed the varied, and quite notable, visitors to Bickleigh Vale. A number of these portraits were collated into her album of "Famous People", (now held by the National Gallery of Victoria). High profile newspapers such as "The Age" (Melbourne), published her photographs.

Blyth [sic] Spirit and
Tun Woman Holding Cat
[56 K]

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