Thomas Bock

This catalogue accompanies the first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of the Birmingham born convict artist Thomas Bock (1793-1855).

A selection of drawings, paintings and photographs demonstrate Bock’s technical skill and sensitivity to a wide range of subject matter. Bock trained as an engraver and miniature painter.

In 1823 he was found guilty of ‘administering concoctions of certain herbs … with the intent to cause miscarriage’ and sentenced to transportation to Australia for 14 years.

He arrived in Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania, where he was quickly pressed into service as a convict artist. An early commission included portraits of captured bushrangers, before and after execution by hanging, including the notorious cannibal Alexander Pearce.

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 a penal colony in Australia – the aspiration and awfulness of it.

Includes essays by Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (Professor of Social History at the University of Tasmania), Gaye Sculthorpe (Curator and Section Head of Oceania at the British Museum), and Jane Stewart (Principal Curator at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery).

Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Thomas Bock at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (6 December 2017 – 11 March 2018). In association with Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

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