Opens 17-08-2018, closes 11-11-2018
Argyle Gallery 4
Thomas Bock (c.1793-1855) trained as an engraver and miniature painter in Birmingham, UK. In 1823 he was found guilty of “administering concoctions of certain herbs … with the intent to cause miscarriage” and sentenced to transportation to Tasmania for 14 years. He arrived in Hobart where he was quickly pressed into service as a convict artist. An early commission included a number of portraits of captured bushrangers, before and after execution by hanging, including the notorious cannibal Alexander Pearce.
At the heart of Thomas Bock is the extraordinary series of portraits of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, now in the British Museum. The exhibition also includes a number of nude life drawings as well as portraits, daguerreotypes, sketchbooks, and small domestic sketches that provide unique insight into his personal life.
Bock’s story is a compelling one, his time in Tasmania brought him recognition within his field, and his work is remarkable not only for its inherent quality but also for the light it shines on the early years of the penal colony – the aspiration and the awfulness of it.
The exhibition is organised in partnership with Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK. It is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Gordon Darling Foundation.
(top) Thomas Bock, Observatory, Domain: Sir John Franklin, Captain Crozier and Captain James Ross RN, 1842. Collection: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, AG1391.
(below) Thomas Bock, Personal colour chart, undated. Collection: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, AG1401.