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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. I hope to have it published in 2018.



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)