Members work: Pen Portraits of Townsville

In 2017 PHA Qld member Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde OAM and Bruce Gibson-Wilde produced a new work which draws together the art, social and built environmental history of the Townsville region. Pen Portraits of Townsville was launched by the Chancellor of James Cook University at the National Trust of Australia (Qld) Ltd Heritage Centre, Townsville.

Before reproduction of photographs in books and newspapers became common in the late 19th century, black and white sketches were the only visual impressions readers had of Townsville, its people and environs. Copies of many of those sketches – some the works of amateurs, others by well known professionals including Edward Bevan and Bradshaw Barker – are reproduced in the book, alongside contemporary written accounts, so that one can see the scenes and portraits through the eyes of both artist and writer. Though photographs have now largely replaced sketches in newspapers and books, black and white sketching continues to be a popular art form. Included in the last section of the book are reproductions of works by 20th century artists.

It is 40 years since Dorothy became involved with studies in the history of north Queensland, in particular of Townsville. Bruce, her husband, is  a retired physicist who shares her enthusiasm for Queensland history. This is the tenth book with which the Gibson-Wildes have been associated, though, in addition, Dorothy has now over 150 other published works – including reports, newspaper and journal articles, and book chapters.

Pen Portraits of Townsville can be purchased from discerning bookstores or by contacting Dr Gibson-Wilde.