Argyle Cut Garrison Church

A watercolour by Frederic Charles Terry and labeled Argyle Place, Sydney, shows numerous Sydneysiders strolling sometime in the 1850s. Among them are two men wearing typical Chinese clothes for the period. One appears to be carrying a bundle on a pole.

The interesting thing about this watercolour painting is that it is uninteresting. It is an unremarkable scene of the time and the presence of two Chinese men in Sydney not far from the port is just as unremarkable. They are perhaps on their way to the goldfields or perhaps are simply residents of Sydney, permanent or temporary. Certainly the State Library of NSW does not consider this item worth digitalising and as a watercolour (as opposed to an oil) painting prefers not to display it in its book space consuming picture room.

Why feature this as a Mitchell 8? Two reasons. First that the arrival and presence of Chinese people in Australia was not always a matter of controversy or even exoticism. Ordinariness is easy to over look. And secondly that the State Library of NSW has much of relevance to Chinese Australian history that is not always apparent.