Wolfgang Sievers

August 10, 2007

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Like many others I was familiar with this photograph entitled Gears for Mining Industry 1967, an iconic Australian industrial record. What I didn’t realise was how prolific the photographer was, nor much about his life and politics. Wolfgang Sievers who was born in Berlin but lived in Australia from1938 has just died at the age of 93. He spent his life recording industrial and architectural scenes, often employed by the companies whose works he photographed. There are tens of thousands of Sievers photographs in the Digital Collection of the National Library of Australia. They cover a huge range from mining, office building, scientific processes, schools and both light and heavy industries. Most are in black and White, though he was also a very fine colour photographer.

In the 19050’s he was hired by the Australian Government to help change the image of Australia from rural and agricultural to industrial and manufacturing .

Unexpectedly, as well as his many industrial and architectural pictures there are also many lovely people pictures, including some from Colombia.

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One of the companies who employed Sievers was the now defunct Vickers Ruwolt (sited at what is now my local shopping centre!). A former employee of that company maintains a website that records the company’s history. The site features Wolfgang Sievers photographs and contains this quote about him – “Often controversial, his strong beliefs, intolerance of racism and increasing concern at the destructive practices of capitalism also led him to question the morality behind many corporate entities, in many cases his clients.”

Wolfgang Sievers donated $1 million worth of photographs to raise money for justice and humanitarian causes and was strongly opposed to the Australian Government’s treatment of asylum seekers.

An interesting man.

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3 Responses to “Wolfgang Sievers”


  1. hey,

    this site is pretty cool hey?…

    you need more photographs of his (wolgang sievers) work other wise its pretty HOT!…

  2. alex Says:

    Its Wolfgang*
    yes there is an F in his name.

  3. Hels Says:

    I know a lot about painting, porcelain, gold and silver art etc, but I know nothing about photography. So I was delighted to read your post and I created a link to my blog.

    Many thanks
    Hels
    Art and Architecture, mainly


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