Matilda Devine, 27 May 1925. My Colorful Past /

By Rebecca Drew

INCREDIBLE colourised images have given vibrant new life to Australia’s most notorious female criminals of the early 1900’s including the fearsome London born razor-gang leader Matilda Devine.

Like Birmingham’s famous Peaky Blinders post WW1 razor-gang, this series of expertly colourised pictures looks into the souls of their female counterparts Down Under, many of whom were British immigrants.

Alice Cooke at the Sydney Women’s Reformatory in 1922. My Colorful Past /

These included Valerie Lowe who was arrested for breaking into an army warehouse and stealing boots and coats, Vera Crichton who was caught conspiring to procure a miscarriage, during a time when abortion was illegal in Australia, and a smiling Ellen Kreigher who had just been arrested and charged with murder.

Alice Fisher, 23 May 1919, State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW. My Colorful Past /

In another shot, thief Muriel Goldsmith is pictured posing proudly for the camera.

The pictures have been colourised Matt Loughrey of My Colorful Past from Westport, Ireland.

Vera Crichton at the Sydney Women’s Reformatory in 1924. My Colorful Past /

“I happened upon a story about Sydney in the early nineteen-hundreds that caught my attention when I saw the mugshot of a woman named Vera Crichton and her face jumped out at me,” explained Matt.

Daphne Barker, 26 April 1923, probably at the Central Police Station, Sydney. Details unknown. My Colorful Past /

“For the observer, looking into the faces of those that face consequence is very telling of the human condition.

“Mugshots magnify it and tell us about ourselves and our own journeys in life.”

Valerie Lowe, 15 February 1922, Central Police Station, Sydney. My Colorful Past /

“It’s raw, telling and timeless, in that the fashions may change, but the laws are much the same.”

Matilda Devine, also known as Matilda Twiss was born in Camberwell, London in 1900.

Barbara Turner, 10 October 1921, Central Police Station, Sydney. My Colorful Past /

She moved to Sydney in 1920 after marrying her Australian husband and soon started work as a prostitute. From June 1921 to May 1925, Matilda had 79-convictions for prostitution related offences including indecent language and offensive behaviour.

Muriel Goldsmith, criminal record number, 231LB, 29 October 1915. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW. My Colorful Past /

In May 1925, she was imprisoned for two years after slashing a man with a razor, earning herself the reputation of the ‘Worst Woman in Sydney’.

Matt said that it took him just under 120-hours to colourise the set of images.

Mrs Osbourne, location and details unknown, around 1919. My Colorful Past /

“People are stunned and pensive when they happen upon my work, the reactions are always positive,” he said.

“I have been a photographer for some years, however, colourisation has fast taken over as the interest becomes far greater.”

Ellen Kreigher, 13 July 1923, Central Police Station, Sydney. My Colorful Past /