Although S.T. Gill was quintessentially a Victorian artist and spent most of his life there, for 12 years he lived in Adelaide and for 8 in Sydney. In each place he recorded the topographical peculiarities and patterns of social activity. Gill also drew in many provincial towns, including Geelong, Castlemaine, Bendigo and Ballarat, and made paintings and lithographs.

Although demonstrating a high degree of accuracy, Gill’s images of urban Australia went beyond the photographic, conveying the social fabric of the places depicted. Sometimes he would take views, record specific buildings with architectural precision, depict social conventions, such as his iconic Doing the Block in Collins Street, or comment on affectations of the newly rich or the recently impoverished. In a sense, he held up a mirror to the developing Australian urban society for more than four decades.