December 13, 2014

Hedda Morrison

 Today 13.12.2014 is 106th Annivesary of Hedda Morrison's birth.

How many of you have read books on Sarawak and enjoyed some nice photos?

I have a photographic memory of a different kind. If I see an exceptional photo, I can remember it and most probably can also remember who had taken it if the credit has been given. thus since my primary school I remember the name Hedda Morrison and naturally I remember her exceptional photos of Sarawak.

There were also not many photos floating around in the 1960's about Sarawak! I was thus bitten by the shutter bug since then. Her photography has inspired me all these years.

Hedda Morrison was born in 1908, in Stuttgard, on Dec 13. She was a graduate of the State Institute for Photography in Munich. In order to leave German politics behind she chose to work in Peiping (later Bejing) in 1933. " She soon took many photographs of the old city and its people, temples and markets,mostlyusing a Rolleiflex, medium-fornat camera.

IN 1940, she met Alastair Morrison, son of the famous George Ernest Morrison, the influential London Timews correspondent in Peking. They were married in 1946 in China and left for Hong Kong.

However fate took her and Alastair to Sarawak. Alastair Morrison was recruited and assigned as District Officer, a big position in those days. They stayed in Sarawak for over 20 years. She took the opportunity to travel with Alastair on official journeys into the ulu. She herself also made many personal photographic tours, visiting farming settlements of the Chinese with whom she was very close (e.g. Sarikei and Lawas)

She wrote two very significant books on Sarawak, SARAWAK (1957) and LIFE IN A LONGHOUSE(1962). In 1967, she and Alastair moved to Australia and settled in Canberra.

Hedda died in Canberra in 2003, age 82.

Note : Exhibitions of her works have been mounted by the Australian National University, Canberra, the Canberra Photographic Society, the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, and the National Library of Australia. Many of her images are archived in the Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University and at Cornell University, NY. There is a large collection of her German, Asian and Australian work in the Powerhouse Museum.

Further reading

  • Edward Stokes, Hedda Morrison's Hong Kong: Photographs & Impressions 1946-47 - (Hong Kong University Press, 2005).
  • George N. Kates, The Years That Were Fat: Peking, 1933-1940 - (Oxford in Asia Paperbacks, 1989).
  • Hedda Morrison, Travels of a Photographer in China, 1933-1946 - (Oxford University Press USA, 1987).
  • Hedda Morrison, A Photographer in Old Peking - (Oxford University Press USA, 1986).
  • Alastair Morrison, Fair Land Sarawak: Some Recollections of an Expatriate Official - (Cornell University Southeast Asia Program Publications, 1993).


  1. "Hedda Morrison: photographic collection", Powerhouse Museum. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
(Source : Wikipedia)


Anonymous said...

Remember her magnificient work.

Ikan Sembilang said...

Chronology of Hedda's Life

1908 Born in Stuttgart, Germany
1926-29 Attended Queen Katherine Convent,
1929-31 Studies at the Bavarian State Institute for
Photography, Munich
1931-32 Photographic assistant in the studio of
Adolph Lazi, Stuttgart
1932-33 Photographic assistant for Olga
Linkelmann, Hamburg
1933-38 Manager of Hartung's Photoshop, Peking
1933 Visited the Yungang Caves, Shansi
1934 Visited Zhengding, Hebei
1934-35 Visited Chengde (Jehol), Hebei
1935 Visited Hua Shan, Shaanxi
1936 Visited the 'Lost Tribe' country, Hebei
1937 Visited Weihaiwei and Qingdao on the
Shandong coast
1940 Visited Baoding, Hebei
1942 Visited Qufu and Mount Tai, Shandong
1944 Visited Nanjing (Nanking), Jiangsu
1946 Married Alastair Morrison
1946-47 Lived for six months in Hong Kong
1947-48 Lived in Sarikei, Lower Regang, Sarawak
1949-50 Lived in Lawas district, Sarawak
1951-52 Lived in Kanowit, Middle Rejang,
1953 Lived in Baram district, Sarawak
1954-67 Lived in Kuching, Sarawak
1960-66 Employed part-time by the Information
Office of the Sarawak government
1965 Awarded Honourary Pegawai Bintang
Sarawak for services to the state of
1967 Settled in Canberra, Australia
1991 Died in Canberra, aged 82

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Koo Le Wong said...

Hi Chang Yi,

A Very Happy New Year to you & your family.
The year 2014 is coming to an end. It is a sad year marked by so many tragedies - the senseless killings of thousands of innocent people by the Muslim extremists in so many parts of the world and the tragic disasters of MH 370, MH17 and QZ8501. Hope the New Year 2015 will be a year of peace, harmony and moderation! Thank God and the new CM that we in Sarawak are still free to use the word "Allah".
Hedda came to Sarawak in 1947 when her husband, Alastair, joined the British Colonial Service and was posted to serve as District Officer in Sarikei. They lived in a government quarter at Mile 1 Repok Road, Sarikei. Being a keen photographer, she used to cycle to the outskirts of Sarikei and took photos of the local people engaged in their day-to-day activities. She befriended the parents of my classmates, Rose and Mary, who were then living in a wooden house in their rubber garden at Mile 3-1/2 , Repok Road, Sarikei. Some of the photos can be seen in the book written by her husband in 1993.
Hedda passed away in 1991 ( not 2003!) at the age of 82.

Ensurai said...

Thank you all. For a while I could not respond to any of the great comments written. Now a friend from overseas has kindly corrected the problem.

I am glad to know more information about Hedda Morrison, who from time to time visited Sibu and made friends with photographers and people who were educated in Beijing.

I was just a toddler then and how I wish I have met her as a youth. What an inspiration she must have been to people who met her.

God bless.

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