Bayside Art Trail and Beyond

There are few of us who aren’t attracted to the sea and amongst the first on our Australian beaches were the artists, lining up to paint even before people thought of going swimming. Actually it was illegal to swim in Australian waters during the day until 1902! If you were willing to risk being eaten by a shark you could swim at night. I digress as this has nothing to do with painting.

Click here if you would like to read more about Liardet  who was quite a character.

So, not only were the settlers, convicts and explorers shaping our future culture, so were the artists.

I must be honest and admit to a personal interest as my greatgreatgrandparents were brought to Melbourne in 1841, no not as convicts, but as Bounty Migrants to help build the new colony.

But moving on to the Bayside Art Trail which goes for 17kms along Port Phillip Bay from Elwood Beach to Beaumaris. The trail celebrates the lives and artwork of notable Australian artists who painted the Bayside coast encompassing the elements of Art, History, Indigenous and Environment.

It is not my intention to describe the trail in detail as the excellent App Bayside does it all. I highly recommend you download it and do the virtual tour which cover art, architecture, historical sites plus much more. What I want to do is highlight some of the interesting painters and their works.

Later Roberts wrote to his son Caleb: When the great day came your mother and I went to the hall of the Exhibition Building, and without getting seats, walked quietly at the very back, and climbing up some rails, I was able to see that immense gathering of people from Australia, and from so many parts of the world. It was very solemn and great. The heads on the floor looked like a landscape.

But back to the beach where McCubbin and Roberts, during the period 1886-1907, were camping and painting with their friends including Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and Walter Withers. As Streeton said: In spite of the heat, the vile hammocks we slept in, the pest of flies and the puce-coloured walls, we had a great time here … On Sundays we took a billy and chops and tomatoes down to a beautiful little bay which was full of fossils, where we camped for the day. We returned home during the evening through groves of exquisite tea-trees, the sea serene, the cliffs at Sandringham flushed with the afterglow.(Ref:William Moore, The Story of Australian Art, 1934)
And out of these camps was born the famous Heidelberg School of painters who shaped the way our nation was to be recorded.

Before continuing along the Bayside Trail to meet some of the artists who followed in the footsteps of our early masters, tomorrow I want to show you how much we have to thank the smoking of cigars for the growth of our artistic culture.

The hero image today is a slice of Brighton Beach by Fred McCubbin, known as The Prof by his friends.

The foreshore coastal trail includes walks and experiences that celebrate Bayside's indigenous stories of the *Boon wurrung people.*