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S.T. Gill and the Victorian goldfields

Explore the Australian Sketchbook exhibition through the theme of S.T. Gill and the Victorian goldfields.

 

S.T. Gill produced some of the most vivid images of life on the Victorian goldfields. These included not only topographical views, but also graphic illustrations of methods used to extract the gold, sly grog tents, pugilist gatherings, the notorious license hunts and scenes of violence on the goldfields. He, like no other artist, gave the gold rushes a human face, presenting a psychological portrait of life on the goldfields.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Gill also showed the dark side of the mining rushes: racial tension with Chinese miners, environmental destruction and the human toll that lay behind the rivers of gold.

Evidence in the accounts of his contemporaries suggests that the miners saw Gill’s images not only as a form of pictorial journalism but as truthful images by one of their own, who had been there on the goldfields. Gill’s art became the social conscience of the time preserved in a visual form.