Blogs / Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism by Thomas Ryan

Former Devonport Maternity Hospital, ph. Thomas Ryan

Photography is an important part of the process of documenting and preserving modernist architecture in Australia. Photographers play a key role in exploring and documenting sites and buildings that have yet to be mapped and are often unknown. Docomomo Australia is keen to host and promote photographers that are working in sharing the images of modernist buildings with a wider audience. This week we are featuring  the photographs of Thomas Ryan, author of the photographic blog ” Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism”, and republish his latest entry in the blog.

(Federico Passi, Docomomo Australia Web Master)


Tom Ryan and the Power of Photographic Memory: 

In my decade long endevour in documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism I have witnessed a lot change in that time.  This is most evident this week where the landmark Modernist former Devonport Maternity Hospital will be demolished.  I visited and returned to the site many times over the years documenting the streamline architecture and as I pondered how many peoples lives were literally made in this building.  Standing abandoned for many years now I couldn’t help but think how quickly a building can go from new cutting edge to decay, and ultimately, in the case of the Devonport Maternity Hospital, demolition.

Photography for me is such a powerful medium.  I can capture a moment in time that has since been changed or lost forever, but the photograph provides a time portal in which to look back on our built environment, and in turn the people who worked in these buildings, and in the case of the Devonport Maternity Hospital, were born there.  Goodbye.

I will be remastering old photographs I’ve taken and be adding them to my website as well as on the Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism Instagram page over at

Hydro Electric Commission building, now used by the Hobart City Council, ph: Thomas Ryan
West Point Casino by Sir Roy Grounds, Hobart, ph: Thomas Ryan
Henty House Government Offices, Launceston, ph: Thomas Ryan (featured in SOS Brutalism, a Global Survey)