Journey to Australia

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These drawings are one of a rare collection we have for sale by an unknown artist which documents the long and perilous journey from England to rural Queensland, Australia, in the year 1900. Weaving a narrative from the first moments of chaos at the boarding dock, all the way to the rustic charm of the local Australian cowboys, this collection forms a fascinating insight into the beauty and pleasantries of an often long and perilous journey that was only undertaken by a select few. These drawings were collected in a sketchbook with an inside label that reads ‘Reeves & Sons, Ltd’ in High Street, Kensington - indicating a British origin. The artist was likely upper class, and appears to have travelled in some comfort, using the sketchbook to capture everyday scenes of life aboard ship on the long and arduous 30+ day journey from England to Australia. A few of the drawings are also labelled with place names, particularly Tiaro and Gootchie, indicating their location in the Queensland province. By this time Australia was still quite rural - the coastal railway line that ran between Brisbane and Gladstone along the Sunshine Coast was only begun in the early 1890s, so it is possible that in 1900 our artist had to travel a majority of the way by horseback, hence the significant number of drawings of riders and horses in this collection.  The inclusion of images of additional figures such as women and young men, in fine hat and dress or safari costume, indicates that our artist was a person who moved in genteel circles –an intrepid adventurer perhaps, or a family member to someone in the prosperous local gold and mining industries.  Filled with an observant charm and a vitality of line, these images are an example of one artist finding quiet moments of beauty in an often harsh and savage landscape.