(England, Australia 1850 – 1897)
21.0 x 28.6 cm image/sheet
Photographers were routinely employed on scientific expeditions during the 19th century. An album of 40 photographs was presented with the 1886 report of the Lyne Royal Commission, but it is known that Bayliss took hundreds of others during the journey.1 Some of Bayliss’s photographs, such as this one, do not appear to serve the immediate purpose of the report. This image of the vastness and emptiness of Australia is related to the problem of water conservation only indirectly. The photograph seems more concerned with articulating a mythology of the bush, a common interest of Australian writers, painters and poets in the last quarter of the 19th century. It probably has direct literary roots and may have been staged to illustrate an outback story of a traveller lost in the bush: ‘Far and wide stretched a stricken land. The glare of a hard and pitiless sky overhead, the infinite vista of salt-bush, brigalow, stay-a-while, and mulga, the creeks only stretches of stone, and no shelter from the shadeless gums – these only meeting his eye.’2
1. Copies of the album are held by the Department of Water Resources and the Mitchell Library of the State Library of New South Wales
2. 1884 report in Jeffcoat K & Byron S 1991, 'Down the Darling: the Charles Bayliss photographs', Department of Water Resources New South Wales, Parramatta p 30
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
Sandra Byron and Kevin Jeffcoat, Down the Darling - The Charles Bayliss Photographs, Sydney, 1991, 30, 31 (illus.).
Robyn Donohue, Look, 'Arcadia: Nineteenth Century Australian Photography', pg. 22-23, Heidelberg, Oct 1998, 23.
Robyn Donohue, Arcadia - nineteenth century Australian photography, North Sydney, 1998, cover (illus.). no catalogue numbers
Tom Griffiths, The Australian, 'Legend and lament', pg. 11, Surry Hills, 10 Mar 1999, 11 (illus.).
Josef Lebovic Gallery, Colonial Photographers, Sydney, 1984. cat.no. 116
John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, 'A race of heroes?', pg. 271-314, Sydney, 2008, 294 (colour illus.).
Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'In every house, and in every tent', pg.33-51, Sydney, 2007, 49 (illus.).
Colonial Photographers, Josef Lebovic Gallery, Kensington, 24 Mar 1984–28 Apr 1984
Critic's Choice, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Apr 1994–10 Jul 1994
Arcadia: nineteenth century Australian photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Oct 1998–13 Dec 1998
A modern vision: Charles Bayliss photographer 1850-1897, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 11 Jul 2008–26 Oct 2008
The photograph and Australia, 21 Mar 2015–08 Jun 2015