CHENNAI: A 1965 picture of a metre-gauge turntable at Tambaram, Chengalpattu railway station taken in 1967 with the hills near Paranur on the backdrop, a suburban local (DC EMU) in a level crossing between Chrompet and Tambaram are some of the many photographs on display at Wandering Artist in RA Puram.
As part of an extended Madras Week celebration, the Australian Consulate in association with Poochi Venkat is holding an exhibition — ‘Lineside’, featuring historic photographs of rail and town, taken around Chennai and its suburbs, by Ian Geoffrey Manning, an Australian who formerly taught Economics at the Madras Christian College.
Originally shot on 35mm-50mm monochrome negatives, Ian’s 3,000-odd frames, reached Venkat’s hands. “Out of the 3,000, 1,200 were of the Indian Railways. I have been able to curate, digitise and restore these specific images on display, in a span of eight years,” said Venkat. The photographs are printed on Hahnemuhle archival media with electro ink. Ian was inspired by India during a round-the-world tour he took as a young boy. When he returned to Chennai in 1965 for a teaching assignment, Ian took every opportunity to document the railways, and electric steam engines.
From the broad gauge, metre gauge, narrow gauge to different locomotives — steam, diesel or electric, Ian has captured the various elements of the railways, with Madras in its landscape.
V Sriram, who was part of the panel which discussed ‘Old and New Madras’ added, “It’s wonderful that Ian’s photographs will become a part of Chennai’s vast photographic record. I don’t think any other city has been so lucky.” AK Kathpal, principal chief mechanical engineer, Southern Railway, was also part of the event. (The exhibition will be open until September 6 at Wandering Artist)
Looking for the perfect shot
Ian was inspired by India during a round-the-world tour he took as a young boy. When he returned to Chennai in 1965 for a teaching assignment, Ian took every opportunity to document the railways, electric steam engines and locomotives. “Classes used to get over by 2 pm and I had all afternoon and evening to take these pictures,” said the 76-year-old who primarily travelled on his bicycle to get the perfect shot, on his Kodax Retins Rangefinder camera.