to another edition of “The Greta Mob Insider”. The year is moving quickly
and as I mentioned last time, it is the year for Ned Kelly. He has been in the
news again on a regular basis what with the re-discovery of his boot
and the Christies auction of original photographs on the 26th
it doesn’t appear to be a favourite with Kelly buffs, Peter Careys book,
“True History of the Kelly Gang”, has been a boon for the legend.
It’s all set to continue with Heath Ledger the latest incarnation of “our
Ned”. The film is currently lensing in the Warby Ranges- up in Kelly Country
proper, with interiors to go before the camera in Box Hill. I wonder who the
historical consultant for the film is?
The interest in Ned and his gang is further re-enforced by the continuing success of Ned: The Exhibition @ the Old Melbourne Gaol in Russell St. It seems to have encouraged people further to come forward with real or imagined “Ned connections”. While I’m sure the exhibition organisers have had their fair share of weirdos wanting some limelight time, genuine information turn ups are inevitable. Already, within the last 3 months, we have two new representations from the Kelly story in the public domain and causing a stir amongst enthusiasts.
first of these is what is now known as the “Gentleman Ned” photograph. It
was originally published in “The Herald” in 1930. Keith McMenomy, in his
1984 version of “Ned Kelly- The Authentic Illustrated Story”, published the
photo. The details were fuzzy and quality poor but Kelly experts seemed to
accept the fellow as Edward Kelly. Fast forward 16 years and McMenomys new
edition of his well regarded book published a pristine version of the same
photograph. Details are astonishingly clear and ironically, has called into
question the authenticity. To many sceptics, the photo, taken by James Bray in
his Beechworth studio, cannot be Ned as the person has blonde hair. Ned was
dark. However, as the man is under a skylight, as well as facing light source
from photographer himself, I believe
the features can be explained.
Keith McMenomy believes the photograph shows Ned Kelly in his prime and says the
photo has an “impeccable pedigree.” Ian Jones, a student of the Kellys for
60 years, is also of the belief it is Ned. I would like to see an in depth,
published examination by a professional photographer with credentials in the
field and put the issue to rest.
In this writers opinion, “Gentleman Ned” shown bears remarkable resemblance
to “Boxer Ned”, a photo taken to commemorate Neds win in a bout with
“Wild” Wright. Are we now questioning this photo as well? Some enthusiasts
suggest that only Neds prisons photos can be authenticated. Bear in mind though,
with the possible exception of the “execution” photograph of 1880, they are
all unflattering and say precisely only what they are meant to say- an
identification of the subject for the record of the day. They are basically
taken and lit and present a “flat” picture. Studio photography on the other
hand, flatters and uses different techniques. If a person shows different
features in a studio photo than to a prison portrait, does that mean we
immediately discard the possibility in a cloud of cynicism?
it is a remarkable photograph and recently sold to a private collector for an
astonishing $19,080 @ the Christies auction in Melbourne. The good news is the
buyer is aware of intense interest and has agreed to display it for all to see.
other big news for Kelly students is the publication of a possible new
photograph of Aaron Sherritt. It can be seen on page 70 of Ned: The Exhibition
catalogue, published early this year. Whilst it may also be Aarons brother Jack,
Kelly expert Ian Jones seems to think photo indeed shows a Sherritt and claims
discovery is “titillating”. Comparing it to other published photos of Aaron,
this writer immediately saw the slender hands and fingers evident in the other
McMenomy is also of the opinion it is Aaron Sherritt.The figure
wears the hat chin-strap under the nose- the “badge” of the Greta Mob
and later, the Kelly sympathiser.
of Aaron, an original of the “Pork-pie hat” photograph was recently
purchased by the Burke museum @ the Christies auction. It seems fitting that the
photo will be returning to Beechworth, once Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritts
and myself hope to meet a lot of other “Kelly students” on the upcoming
“Ned Tours”,starting this month. The fact the trips are happening is another
sign of the incredible interest in this rich slice of Australian history. See