PERRIMAN, ALICE (1885-1948)

Full Birth Name: Alice Evelyn Perriman
Married Name & Dates: No identified spouse
Profession: Photographer (1909-1914), (1925-1927); Photographic Artist (1916-1919); Photographic Finisher (1928-1943); Artist and Photographer (1944-1948)
Professional Years: 1909 to 1948
Where Practised: Auburn, VIC (1909-1914); Queenborough, TAS (1916-1919); Hawthorn, Vic (1925-1927); Auburn, Vic (1928-1943); Kalorama, Vic (1944-1948)
The Tools of The Photographic Finisher.




Photography – an extension of her artistic skills


Alice Perriman was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 24 January 1885.[1] She was the second of seven children born to Mary Ann Godwin and Henry Perriman, both of whom hailed from Tasmania, then a British colony. The couple had married in New Zealand in 1881[2] where Henry worked as a shipping clerk. In July 1888, when Alice was 3 years old, the family relocated to Melbourne in the Colony of Victoria[3] and settled in the suburb of Essendon. They lived there until 1901, the year of the Federation of Australia, and then moved to the Hawthorn and Auburn district where they lived until 1947.

Exactly when Alice Perriman started her career in photography is unknown. What is known is that the 1909 Victorian Electoral Roll[4] shows her occupation as a photographer, when she was 24 years old. Without having any definitive information to confirm her roles in a photographic studio, it is possible to postulate on at least two that she held—that of Photographic Artist and Photographic Finisher.

Sometime in 1913 or 1914 Alice moved to the Tasmanian capital, Hobart, to live with her brother Albert. While there she worked as a Photographic Artist in 1915 and 1916, a specific role that encompassed one of two possibilities: (1) she established her own photographic studio where she specialised in creating photographs that resembled paintings, following the principles of early 20th century Pictorialism; or (2) she applied her artistic skills to the works of a photographer under whom she was employed.

Alice returned to her home in the Melbourne suburb of Auburn a year or so later, and, though she travelled back and forth between Hobart and Auburn, it appears she did not work in the photographic industry for several years.

It was not until after her brother’s marriage in 1924 that Alice Perriman made a permanent return home—which was now at 72 Burwood Road in Hawthorn, an adjoining suburb of Auburn—and resumed working in photography. By 1928, when she was in her early 40s, her occupation was identified as that of a Photographic Finisher, one who applies the final refinements required to present the photograph to the client. It is possible to suggest that she had, much earlier in her career, responded to a 1908 advertisement[5] for a finisher in a local studio, The A.N.A. Studio. This studio, which was at 411 Burwood Road in Hawthorn, was run by photographer John Atkinson, and only a 20-minute walk from her home at that time.

Working in photography was most likely a lifelong occupation, but Alice also had a talent for drawing. This was evidenced when, in February 1926, she entered a sketching competition and won 3rd Prize.[6] For the purpose of the competition, she gave her address as being in the Melbourne suburb of Canterbury, the home of relatives, one of whom was a draughtsman and for whom she likely worked and applied her drawing skills.

It cannot be ascertained if Alice worked in photography up until her early 50s or early 60s. What can be confirmed is that sometime after 1943 she purchased a property at 5 Hands Road, Kalorama, situated in the Dandenong Ranges.[7] Kalorama at that time was considered a cool leafy summer retreat, a place of architect-designed homes, with beautiful gardens, some of which were created by the eminent landscape designer Edna Walling, tea gardens and holiday lodges, galleries and an artists’ colony. For most of her adult life, Alice was not dependent on her family for a living, and at Kalorama she must have lived as she pleased, and most probably maintained her interests in both photography and drawing.

Alice Perriman did not marry and remained an independent woman until her death. She died[8] in the Austin Hospital from a secondary tumour in her lungs having suffered from lung cancer for some years. She was buried in Fawkner Cemetery on 16 August 1948.[9]





[1] Birth Certificate. Alice Evelyn Perriman. No. 1885/3949. Births in New Zealand.

[2] Marriage Certificate, Mary Ann Godwin and Henry Perriman. No 1881/699. Marriage in New Zealand.

[3] VPRS 947/P0000, 1887 – 1888

[4] Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Australian Electoral Commission. [Electoral roll]. Accessed 6 April, 2023, 10.55am.

[5] “Tutor’s, Clerks, &c.: Photography. Wanted. young Girl, competent finishing room etc.”, The Argus, 12 December 1908, pg 13.

[6] “Draw Me and Win a Prize”, Truth, 5 June 1927, pg 20.  This advertisement lists the winners for 1926 of which Perriman is one.

[7] VPRS 28/P0003, 403/925, VPRS 7591/P0002, 403/925

[8]  Death Certificate. Alice Evelyn Perriman. No. 8850/1948, Deaths in the District of Melbourne in Victoria.

[9] Ibid.