Australian sketchbook: Colonial life and the art of ST Gill

Exhibition details

Hours: 10am–5pm daily, until 9pm Thursday

Visit our winter 2015 exhibition

Our stunning free exhibition, Australian sketchbook: Colonial life and the art of ST Gill, provided a window onto everyday life on the goldfields and in the bush, cities and towns of 19th-century Australia. The first-ever retrospective to focus on the life and work of Gill, the exhibition showcased more than 200 paintings, drawings, watercolours and prints.

Prospectors, Aboriginal Australians, larrikins and swagmen – a range of classic Australian characters were brought to life in the vibrant imagery of ST Gill, the most significant artist of the colonial era but now a forgotten name. From Dead Man’s Creek to Diggers Rest, Gill captured the essence of our young nation – its resilience, dry humour and, above all, its love of an underdog.

Running from July to October 2015, the exhibition was complemented by a host of free programming, including guided tours, illuminating discussions and curator presentations.

Australian sketchbook gallery

Browse a selection of quirky and insightful watercolours by the artist in our ST GIll online gallery.

Sasha Grishin on ST Gill: The artist as social commentator

Hear Professor Sasha Grishin in conversation with Virginia Trioli, exploring the colonial artist ST Gill's role as a social commentator.

Make your own ST Gill dog

ST Gill loved dogs, and his canine companions often appeared as central characters in his artworks. Visit our blog to see how you can craft your own ST Gill dog, called Pilot.

Audio tour

Take our audio tour of the exhibition, featuring commentary from curator Sasha Grishin and exploring four distinctive artworks depicting central Melbourne landmarks. Have a listen while you're at the exhibition, or when you're visiting the locations depicted.

Exhibition backdrop

See what's in store as a talented team of artists from Scenic Studios create an exhibition backdrop inspired by ST Gill's artworks.

Lithography in the age of ST Gill

See how ST Gill's drawings and sketches were transformed into lithographic prints in this insightful video by the exhibition curator, Professor Sasha Grishin.

Buy the book

Read ST Gill and his audiences by the exhibition's curator, Professor Sasha Grishin.

La Trobe Journal essay

To decipher the hidden symbolism in ST Gill's iconic painting Digger's wedding, read our La Trobe Journal essay.

Exhibition partners

Presenting partner:

National Library of Australia

Supporting partners:

National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program
Gordon Darling Foundation

State Library NSW

Program partners:

Rare Book Week