Hi my name is Chantal Sowada, I first started working in the darkroom with my dad since I was about 10 yrs old. I love the peace of the darkroom. Dad taught me all my darkroom skills and I haven't looked back. Now I spend my weekends at the markets selling and the weekdays making the stock.
I hand do all the photographs from negative to positive, then process them in black and white, then I bleach the photograph and Sepia tone them.
I cut all the matts and my beautiful mother Helen does the caption on each photograph. My mother is also at the Rocks markets on Sundays full of history and stories about Australia.
Yesterdays Images sells photographic reproductions of old historical photographs based on their vast collection.
They began at the Paddington Markets in 1984, and now have their
niche at The Rocks Market in Sydney.
About the Artist:
Valentin Sowada 1932 - 2012
was born in Switzerland in 1932
and raised in the alpine village
of Château-d'Oex. As a teenager living in Lausanne, he completed an apprenticeship in
photography that involved all fields of the trade, including x-rays and
In 1949 he left Switzerland
and went to North Africa to work as a
photojournalist. This included assignments for various newspapers, agencies and
magazines, covering the wars of independence in Morocco,
and other events.
After four years, he travelled to Paris and worked in commercial photography,
also taking many pictures of the city. He was influenced by the work of Henri
Cartier-Bresson and other photographers working in Paris during the early 1950s. In 1955, a
little tired of Europe, Valentin acquired a strong
pair of shoes and hitchhiked from Paris to Australia.
Eleven months after leaving Paris and many
photographs later, he arrived at Broome in Western Australia.
Valentin met his future wife Helen in Sydney and obtained a job
as an X-ray and Gamma Ray Technician with the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric
For two years he worked in the Snowy
Mountains, then returned to Sydney and worked as a
staff photographer for Qantas Airways for a number of years. His photographs
were regularly featured in magazines and trade publications. During this time,
he also took pictures for André Simon’s The Wines, Vineyards and Vignerons of Australia,
a chronicle about the fledgling Australian wine industry.
Valentin’s photography during the 1960s captured Sydney at the nexus of
its conversion from a bustling city to major international metropolis, as the
Modernist Movement transformed the cityscape. Sydney
city and the Rocks, Sydney’s
beach culture, King’s Cross, the structural beauty of men and their
constructions, and the entertainments of suburban life dominate the subject
matter of Valentin’s pictures from this era.
They display the voyeuristic eye of the photojournalist on one hand, and Valentin’s own interest in the humour of daily life
and the romanticism of Sydney
in the 1960s.
In the 1970s Valentin’s
photographic emphasis shifted.
For a long time he had thought of developing
photographs on surfaces other than paper. Through various experiments he
invented a light-sensitive emulsion to reproduce photographic images on
different surfaces. This proved a success, and, finally in business on his own, Valentin’s work
revolved around the production of large photographic murals for display. Much
of this work was produced in his 2,000 sq. m. darkroom, an old WWII bomb
shelter in Taylor Square,
Sydney. Major projects included
photographs on canvas for the Los Angeles Qantas sales office in 1971, the
Australian Pavilion at the Okinawa Expo (Japan) in 1975 and the Australian
History Exhibition for the US Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. People
experimenting with new artistic mediums, including well-known Australian artist
Julie Rrap, also used his photo emulsion.
At the same time, Valentin began
acquiring a substantial quantity of old negatives and historic photographs,
initially for use in mural work. Over the years, the collection grew to a
substantial size. When the task of producing large murals seemed all too much, Valentin and Helen re-focussed their work on to the sale of
photographic reproductions of old historical photographs based on their
collection. They began at the Paddington Markets in 1984, and now have their
niche at The Rocks Market in Sydney.
Despite having known little of family as a boy, he cherished his home life in Australia. Valentin Sowada died in Sydney on May 16 after a long illness. He is survived by Helen and their three children and seven grandchildren.
Exhibitions and Museum Display
CreditsUtzon Centre, Aaalborg, Denmark
‘The Big Picture’, Sydney Morning Herald 175th Anniversary
Exhibition, Hyde Park, Sydney,
8-24 April 2006.
Bamboo Café and Gallery, Gould Street, BondiBeach,
‘Sydney in the
Sixties’ for the
Sydney Cove Authority, Coach House, Kendall Lane, The Rocks, April 1996.
Photo credits - Books A. Watson (ed.), Building a Masterpiece: the Sydney Opera
House, (Powerhouse Publishing: Sydney,
2006), 13, 126, 134, 171.
M. Prisk, T.
Stephens and M. Bowers (eds),
The Big Picture. Diary
of a Nation (Sydney, 2005), 58-9, and accompanying CD.
Wine Board, Wine Australia –
a Guide to Australian Wine (Nelson: Netley, 1968)A. Simon, The Wines, Vineyards and Vignerons of Australia (Landsdowne
Press: Melbourne, 1966)
- Newspapers and Magazines‘Travel’,
The Sun-Herald, 25 June 2006, 33.‘Goodbye
Dogmen’, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 8-9 April
and action are always close to the heart of Sowada’,
photo essay in Camera World International,
Vol. 3/6 (1966), 8-11.
and photo essay on Bondi
Beach, Qantas Airways Magazine, Vol. 32/1 (1966), 1-11.
Cover pictures for Qantas Airways Magazine 33/4 (1967), 32/11
(1966) and photo essay on New
Caledonia [whole issue].‘Sydney
Opera House Symposium’, photographs by Jozef Vissel, Max Dupain and Val Sowada, Camera World
International, Vol. 3/1 (1965), 18-21.
to the Bridge?’, photo essay on Australia Square, Camera World International, Vol. 2/5
(1965), 31-33.‘Continental’, photo essay on Kings Cross, Camera World International, Vol. 2/12
(1965), 18-21.‘A Pithy Masculine Viewpoint’, photo essay on city life in Camera World International, Vol. 2/10
(1965), 16-18.‘Les ballets africaines’, Camera World International, Vol. 3/2
Cover picture, Industrial
Photography and Commercial Camera Magazine, Vol. 3/2 (1964).‘The Graphic Motif’, Camera
World International, Vol. 2/4 (1964), 32-3.Cover and photo essay on the Snowy Mountains Scheme, Qantas Airways Magazine, Vol. 29/2
(1963) [whole magazine].
Cover picture for Qantas Airways
Magazine, Vol. 28/8 (1962) [with Reg Horner].
there have been numerous newspaper and trade journal articles about the work of
Valentin Sowada over the