S.T. Gill and the formation of the Australian character

Explore the Australian Sketchbook exhibition through the theme of S.T. Gill and the formation of the Australian character.

 

It can be argued that S.T. Gill was the first artist to delineate the ‘Australian character’, with its dry wit, its resilience and its gift for improvisation. He depicted the tough new breed of women and Australians’ ability to survive against the odds. In this he was a precursor to The Bulletin artists and writers, and their successors, including Phil May, Henry Lawson, ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Russell Drysdale.

Over several decades, Gill made images of individuals out of which he forged a number of ‘types’ that captured the peculiarities of the Australian character. His cast of characters, which includes the stockman, the ‘bushie’, the city dweller, the ‘pure merinos’ and the street urchin, struggle with the elements—the droughts and the floods—and discover a unique beauty in the Australian landscape and a form of oneness with the country.