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Burke and Wills Departure - Canvas Prints

Regular price $269.00 AUD
Regular price Sale price $269.00 AUD
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© Artwork copyright Adrian Blakey 2022

All art on this site is the original copyright work of Adrian Blakey and MUST NOT be used or copied without written permission.

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Print Size: 60 cm X 80 cm / 24 X 32 inches

By 1855 Australia's colonies were competing to find possible routes for an overland telegraph route that could link the country to Java, and from there on to Europe. 

The Victorian government funded an expedition to be led by explorers Burke and Wills to find a suitable route. It required them to cross inland Australia at a time when little was known of its vast interior.

Their expedition was to cross from Melbourne in the south to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, a total round trip of some 6,400 km. For its time, this was the equivalent of a moonshot.

This excited the population and in 1860, fifteen thousand people gathered to watch the expedition's departure, an enormous crowd for a Melbourne which had only been founded as a settlement in 1835, just 25 years prior.

The expedition ended in disaster with both leaders perishing.  Of the nineteen men setting out, only one returned alive.

Nonetheless, an attempt to explore an unknown continent remains significant, and Burke and Wells remain well known in Australia. For these reasons, I'm including this event in my Worldscape Collection.

A photograph of the departure is not available so in this case I've turned to a black and white lithograph which appears to have been first published in the Illustrated Australasian News in May 1881. This appears to be by "A H Massina and Co". As far as I can tell, this is in turn based on an earlier engraving by Albert Henry Fullwood. 

My impression uses a section of the of the lithograph as its inspiration. While keeping to the essential outline, my painting is in a modern style. Unlike the lithograph, one of the explorers has his hand raised to meet the setting sun at the top-left. Yet the sun is simultaneously rising at the bottom right, a hint that not all may go to plan.

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