Staying Chipper

Carved Picture Frame, 1916

Trial Bay Gaol was built between 1877 and 1886, to house end of term prisoners brought there specifically to construct a breakwater. Construction was slow and by 1903, the breakwater project was abandoned and the Gaol closed.

Following the onset of the First World War, Trial Bay Gaol was reopened as an internment camp, holding men of German descent from 1915. There were five such camps in NSW, and its internees were mostly an elite group of academics, professionals, craftsmen, and diplomats who had been classified as ‘enemy aliens’.

The activities of the internees transformed Trial Bay into a thriving place for sport and culture with leisure and sporting activities organized by “private clubs”. Whilst there was considerable freedom at the camp, internees also experienced loneliness and boredom. Some internees took up hobbies including arts and crafts to while away the time and monotony of camp life.

This chip-carved picture frame with its intricate geometric pattern was made by an unknown internee in 1916. Chip-carving required few tools and patterns were widely available in newspapers and magazines. The Camp closed in 1918 at the end of the war.


What design/pattern was the picture frame?

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