Unique and captivating photographs of the 1920s criminal underworld capture the zeitgeist of an era. These mugshots, known as ‘Specials’, are unexpectedly candid and intriguing portraits of suspects in custody, and they are unlike any elsewhere in the world.
Bosses, bruisers, plotters, drug pushers, addicts, sly-grog purveyors and petty crims are all captured by the camera as they stare down the lens into history. But more than simple mugshots, these portraits, and the stories of the sordid sorts they portray, also convey the rise and fall of trends such as the flapper and illustrate the post-war movement of people between Sydney and other cities such as New York and London.
The hit BBC series Peaky Blinders found inspiration in this unique photographic archive, as have artists, academics and designers such as Ralph Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld. What will you take from them?
A travelling exhibition from Sydney Living Museums.