Mark Blow

Australian photographer and filmmaker

Born in Portsmouth, England, Blow came to Sydney and established a photographic business in 1888. He adapted one of his studios to incorporate Edison Kinetoscopes, Röntgen rays (X-rays) and other optical novelties, and bought a projector, probably a Wrench Cinematograph, in 1897. He began filming in August 1897 and moved his exhibition business from the photographic studio to a special hall which presented a mixed programme of music, live acts and films, and was known as the Sydney Polytechnic, in imitation of the London home of popular scientific displays and the site of the first Lumière programme in Britain. Blow realised the pulling power of locally filmed scenes, particularly horse races, and was an active filmmaker from 1897 to 1901, though the Polytechnic itself closed in 1899 after a fire and some poor attendances.

Chris Long / Luke McKernan