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S. T. Gill (STG) ~ 10. More to Reveal …


Episodes: 1. The Controversy | 2. Why is the Sun Shining from the South? (Hindley Street) | 3. Alibis and Mystery | 4. Sunshine and Dating (Rundle Street) | 5. 10 August 1844 | 6. Are They Still Following Me? | 7. Gill’s Newfoundland Dog | 8. A Mystery of Provenance | 9. Man Dead! News Murdered!! | 10. More to Reveal … 




History Controversy


Babette Smith had proposed her radical “convict Gill” theory in February 2016 – through Twitter and a talk at the Sydney Institute. (For background see Episode 1.) I began corresponding with Smith in early June.


You may not have been aware of a “convict Gill” controversy unless you’d been following Smith on Twitter or you read about it in the mainstream media in July 2016. Until now I have avoided referring to the Fairfax Media article of 4 July 2016: Academic claims artist S.T. Gill was a convict. But, as you can see there was definitely some controversy stirring.


Having already made research progress by the time of the Fairfax article, three days later I was able to begin this series of episodes. The intention was an open exploration.


The controversy seemed to fade very quickly – soon after Episode 2 dating Hindley Street, Adelaide and Frank Campbell’s disambiguation of two Gills that was Episode 3. Light achieved what heat hadn’t.


On 20 September, I extended an opportunity to Smith to comment (just before Episode 9).


Exhibition and Trove


As I write this, there are three days left in the exhibition Australian Sketchbook: Colonial Life and the Art of S.T. Gill, at the National Library of Australia (NLA), Canberra. It seems to be a good time to bring this series of episodes to a conclusion.


It is also opportune to mention another recent contribution. Two days ago, NLA posted this great article: Life on the goldfields: Bryce Ross and S.T. Gill by Marion Amies. It takes STG’s painting Forest Creek, Mount Alexander diggings … and uses Trove to explore people and businesses named in the scene. I had earlier done the same for Hindley Street (Episode 2) and Rundle Street (Episode 4) – although Amies’ article is more interesting and mine more forensic!


Other STG works can be thus enlightened using Trove.


I made extensive use of Trove lists to support these episodes. Here is my list of lists for all ten episodes. I could not have achieved this research with Trove.


Outstanding Wishes


In Episode 1, I expressed two wishes:

* The documents of the coronial inquest into the death of S. T. Gill (reference 1880/898 Male) returned to the Public Record Office of Victoria PROV. (See Episode 9.)

* A digitised version of STG’s juvenile sketchbook made publicly available. The book is in the exhibition. (S.T. Gill Sketchbook, 1835-1838, Art Gallery of South Australia, 659D34)


They remain wishes, but I am hopeful. 


Colour Wash Biography to Come


This “blog” was 10 episodes in 100 days and coincided with the exhibition. I took some shortcuts and subsequent research will correct these.


Also I have held back some discoveries about S. T. Gill. This is fascinating material and adds to our knowledge of Gill’s connections and milieu. But it suits a longer, more patient form of writing. I intend to make it a biography of sorts, albeit a bit out of the ordinary. It will be more interesting than it will be forensic! It washes colour into what is an otherwise pencilled biographical sketch.



David Coombe, 14 October 2016.



  Stay tuned!



CITE THIS: David Coombe, 2016, S. T. Gill (STG) ~ 10. More to Reveal …, accessed dd mmm yyyy, < 10_more_to_reveal.htm>


or CITE THIS: David Coombe, 2016, S. T. Gill (STG), accessed dd mmm yyyy, <>


14/10/2016 (original) – 30/10/2017 (updated)