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Discover the extraordinary work of Thomas Bock who, sentenced to transportation for 14 years in 1823, became one of the most important artists in Colonial Australia.

Originally apprenticed in Birmingham, Bock established his own business there as an engraver and miniature painter before being convicted of ‘administering concoctions of certain herbs ... with the intent to cause miscarriage’.

His trade was included on his convict record and on arrival in Hobart he was quickly put to work engraving plates for bank notes and illustrating almanacs and stationery. He was also commissioned to paint the portraits of convicts before and after execution. One of the earliest was a drawing of the cannibal, Alexander Pearce, requested by the Colonial Surgeon.

Pardoned in 1832, he became a much sought-after portrait painter among Australia’s elite, but his interests extended far beyond, both in method and subject matter. Known for his watercolours and use of pencil, chalk and pastel, he also painted in oils and was one of the first in Australia to experiment with photography. He painted everything around him including Tasmanian Aborigines, criminals, free settlers, landscapes and domestic scenes. This is the first exhibition dedicated to Bock for over 25 years and the first ever in the UK.

Ikon Gallery

1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, West Midlands, B1 2HS

0121 248 0708


Opening times

Tue – Sun and Bank Holiday Mon, 11am – 5pm

Free to all

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Valid to 31 December 2020

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