Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Civic Square Launceston - Documenting Change

Have you ever made a visit to Launceston and walked around the public buildings and public spaces known as Civic Square?  Here you will find a Modernist treasure trove of architecture, public spaces and public art works that combine to provide, until recently, an original and intact example of 1960/70/80s Modernism.  The space is home to the public library (pictured) designed in the 1970s with its wonderful form through the use of red brick strips.  The next time you look up at the library note how the bricks curve ever so slightly, this was part of the design.  The public artworks are many, they can be seen dotted around Civic Square itself as well as in public buildings, such as the wonderful ceramic artwork inside of Henty House.  Redevelopment of Civic Square has been occurring and with it some features will be lost from the original design aesthetic.

The curved water fountain facing Charles Street is stunning and is one of the earliest designs on site, I love its river stones that are used and guide my eye onward to the curved water fountain itself.  Henty House, the Magistrates Court and the Police Station are all Modernist designs of major historical and aesthetic value and on your visit to Launceston are worth checking out.  I love the subtle details too, the original bricks that formed Civic Square, and the sitting areas too with the red brick angles so reminiscent of that period.  Much of this will be lost forever, and as a photographer I spent much time there documenting so as to have a visual record of this major public space and buildings.  Places change, but its fascinating to look at photographs I reckon - they are a portal into our past, of how spaces and buildings once looked.  Sometimes it feels like the early 1980s when Civic Square was officially opened wasn't that long ago.  But it is nearly 40 years ago.  I wonder how long the new development and original buildings will stick around for until the circle of change and redevelopment occurs once again.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Hobart Supreme Court

Part of the low sprawling Hobart Supreme Court building officially opened in 1980, it uses sandstone cladding on its exterior as well as a myriad of wonderful original design features inside the building including timber panelling and fixtures. In 2010 the design won the 25 Year Award for Enduring Architecture at the National Architecture Awards.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Concrete Shaped Tasmania

The year is 1969 - the Government Offices that is 10 Murray Street has just been completed, quotes for the latest office equipment and fit-outs are being sorted and it's one of many buildings in Hobart that symbolise a confident and booming economy.   Just down the road at Sandy Bay a few years after the opening of 10 Murray Street another concrete tower was being planned in the early 1970s - the now heritage listed Wrest Point Casino by Architect Sir Roy Grounds. An "architectural brother" to 10 Murray in its wide use of concrete and a tower in the sky.  By looking at, studying and photographing Architecture in Tasmania I get the idea that there was a lot of prosperity and confidence in life and the economy in those days. The cost involved in erecting highrise buildings must have been huge, yet all over Tasmania one can witness large scale buildings from the 1950s and into the 1970s.  Hobart especially saw many new landmarks to the skyline in the 1960s and 1970s.  The Brutalist stack that is the State Library of Tasmania is another example of the use of concrete - quite fitting really as it holds such important and sensitive materials.   Residential tower blocks, whilst not reaching the heights of Government and commercial buildings were many in Hobart, and taller examples can still be seen in Battery Point and Sandy Bay. Launceston too welcomed new large scale architectural arrivals that included the Myer Building, Telstra Exchange, Public Library and Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital to name but some examples.  Over in Devonport there stood the 1950s Maternity hospital, last month demolished.  In Burnie the Brutalist Government offices stand as one of its tallest buildings.  For me I love how architecture is a portal into the past. It's can be the literal beauty of a building, but also the social history that it reflects.  the 1950s-70s was a rapid period of growth in Tasmania, not since the Victorian period has the built landscape changed the way the towns and cities looked over Tasmania.  It is such a fascinating time to photograph and research.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Henty House // Look Up

Have you ever looked up and marvelled at the details of the landmark Henty House? This is one of my latest photographs I recently made from my ongoing project documenting Henty House and Tasmanian Modernism. I love the challenge of travelling around Tasmania and photographing all kinds of architecture, but Henty House has something special. I reckon it's because all of its facades have visual appeal and the ability to be able to walk around freely to each side is special. Many buildings there are particular sides of the building that stand to be seen whilst other sides are hidden away and perform a functional purpose. I can think of a few buildings that have this quality of being able to photograph from all sides that include the now doomed 10 Murray Street and the former grain silos at Inveresk. I reckon Henty House would be up there for one of my most photographed buildings. I am always surprised to find new perspectives and lighting to capture photographs of this wonderful design.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Beautiful Brutalism - The Most Original Architecture in Tasmania

Tasmania has some fine examples of Brutalist architecture, and whilst the capital can lay claim to substantial examples of this period such as the Government Lands Building, the State Library Stack (heritage listed) and 10 Murray Street (currently being demolished) other towns throughout Tasmania have their fare share of concrete design.  Launceston in the North of the State has a population of around 100,000 and for a small town has some very notable examples.  As those of you who visit my blog and Instagram page (

I have been showcasing Henty House Government offices, as my photography has been published in an exhibition in Europe and a publication SOS Brutalism: A Global Survey and as such have been going through my archives and making new photographs.  It was great to be contacted and be part of this project. I am looking forward to getting a copy of the book, its over 700 pages of Brutalism from all around the world.  I am proud Tasmania is part of the book.  If you are interested in the publication you can check it out here -

Another notable building I love in Launceston CBD is the ANZ Bank, originally designed for TAA Airways.  I have always loved the clean refined lines of the design and the windows are reminiscent of an airliner.

For me Brutalism is such an original design.  They don't mimic the past, they are original and honest in their material and design.  They add to the rich landscape of Tasmanian architecture and as such provide a glimpse into our built and social past. At a time when Brutalism is being demolished or altered I think of no better time for such publications as SOS Brutalism being published to raise awareness of this period that largely goes misunderstood by the general public.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

T&G Hobart // Hobart Growing Up

As far as T&G Buildings around Australia go, Hobart has to be one of the best examples with its ratio so pleasing to the eye and to photograph too.  The building has recently been given a new lick of paint and upper floors have been converted into apartments.  I love the T&G buildings over Australia, each similar but taking on their own distinct flair.  It was sad to see the the Modernist T&G in Townsville demolished under a decade ago. When it was built archive photographs show it standing as one of the tallest buildings in Hobart. It must have been quite confronting to the passer by back in the day.  Isn't it funny how the "tall" buildings and the perception of what is tall change over the decades.  The last large building boom in Hobart occurred in the 1960s and 1970s that saw new buildings, both commercial and Government tower over the T&G.  If you take a walk around Hobart you can witness many in-tact examples of Modernist tower blocks.  There are several along Murray Street, including the doomed and soon to be demolished 10 Murray Street Government Offices, the heritage listed State library Brutalist Stack, and you cannot go past the AMP Tower opposite the mall, what a stunning design. Hobart has so many great examples of Modernist architecture, what are you waiting for, book a trip to Hobart and check them out!  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Power of Photography - Photographing Memory

In my decade long endevour in documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism I have witnessed a lot change in that time.  This is most evident this week where the landmark Modernist former Devonport Maternity Hospital will be demolished.  I visited and returned to the site many times over the years documenting the streamline architecture and as I pondered how many peoples lives were literally made in this building.  Standing abandoned for many years now I couldn't help but think how quickly a building can go from new cutting edge to decay, and ultimately, in the case of the Devonport Maternity Hospital, demolition. 

Photography for me is such a powerful medium.  I can capture a moment in time that has since been changed or lost forever, but the photograph provides a time portal in which to look back on our built environment, and in turn the people who worked in these buildings, and in the case of the Devonport Maternity Hospital, were born there.  Goodbye.

I will be remastering old photographs I've taken and be adding them to my website as well as on the Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism Instagram page over at

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Henty House // Just published in 716 Page book

Henty House // Just published in 716 Page book

Earlier in the year I was contacted for a request to submit my photographic work of Henty House Government Offices for a new publication: “SOS BRUTALISM: A Global Survey” The landmark Government Office building in Launceston is a design that I enjoy photographing and it's exciting and an honour to be involved in this publication - to know that Tasmania has been represented in this global survey and the work that I do documenting this period throughout Tasmania has been recognised. The 716 page hardback book has just been published and is available online. More information about the publication can be seen here:
“SOS BRUTALISM: A Global Survey”
“The first-ever global survey of brutalist architecture from the 1950s to the 1970s, based on research project carried out collaboratively by Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM and W├╝stenrot Foundation”
“SOS BRUTALISM: A Global Survey”
Edited by Oliver Elser, Philip Kurz, Peter Cachola Schmal, 1st edition, 2017
Hardback with paperback supplement
716 pages in total, 686 color and 411 b/w illustrations
22.5 x 27.5 cm
ISBN 978-3-03860-075-6
In cooperation with Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM and W├╝stenrot Foundation

Are you following Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism on Instagram? Check out all the latest photographs I've been taking on Tasmanian Modernism >

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tasmanian Modernism Project // Brutalist Abstraction

One of my latest edits from my many thousands of photographs from my catalouge for my ongoing project. Have you ever taken the time to look up at the architecture around our lovely towns and cities.  It's amazing doing so, as you find views of places you might not have noticed before or see them in a totally new perspective.

Have you followed my Instagram page dedicated to my over decade long project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism? I will keep posting my thoughts and photographs onto this blog and the facebook page, but I am very active over on my Instagram account, posting my latest edits there - Follow my Instagram page here

About the project

Join me (Thomas Ryan Photography) on a photographic project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism from the 1930's to the 1980's. The entire project gallery of 1000+ images and counting can be viewed on my website under art projects. I have been undertaking this project for over a decade.

My portfolio of commercial and art projects can be seen on my website and I can be contacted here as well. All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan Photography. Unauthorised use is prohibited. Contact me for all enquires

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