Doing the Block. Gt Collins St, 1880, watercolour State Library Victoria

Doing the Block Gt Collins St, ST Gill, 1880

Today we paws to celebrate the work of 19th-century Australian artist ST Gill, the subject of our new exhibition Australian sketchbook: Colonial life and the art of ST Gill.

ST Gill loved dogs. Within a year of the artist’s arrival in Australia in 1839, he acquired a Newfoundland pup and continued to own dogs for the rest of his life. They were not only his companions, but became central characters in his art. Quite often he would include one or more dogs in his compositions in the form of a canine commentary on the human drama unfolding in his pictures (see Doing the Block pictured above). Late in life he would show his dogs as the sole true admirers of his art.

We’ve created our own papercraft pooch (pictured above) modelled on a dog featured in a number of Gill’s works, so that you can create and share your own canine commentary, (or simply get crafty for 30 minutes).

This particular fellow featured in a number of Gill’s later works, most notably ‘Doing the Block‘, currently on display in our new exhibition. Unnamed by Gill, we’ve called him Pilot, after Mr Rochester’s dog in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

How to make Pilot

You will need: A4 paper, colour printer, scissors

Image of pilot the papercraft dog

Image of pilot the papercraft dog being folded in half

  • Cut out the dog. Pilot is symmetrical so it’s easy to cut him out while the paper is folded together.

Collage of images of Pilot being cut out with scissors

  • Fold along all of the lines (back and forth) so they are more flexible. This will make Pilot easier to assemble later.
  • Tip: Scoring the lines with a ruler first can help.

Images of someone folding the dog

  • Now for the tricky part. Starting with the hind legs and working your way towards the nose, fold each white, dotted line to be a mountain, and each brown, solid line to be a valley.

dog

pilot

  • Gently does it. It helps to pinch the spine together as you create the folds

dog

  • We find nimble fingers and a little patience helps too!

dog

  • Woof! Pilot is finished!

Pilots

Suzanne and Ian

  • Share your new canine companion with us online using #australiansketchbook

You can see the original ‘Pilot’ in all his glory in our new exhibition Australian sketchbook: Colonial life and the art of ST Gill, presented in partnership with the National Library of Australia. Open 10am-5pm daily, until 9pm Thursday.

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This article has 7 comments

  1. Awesome, absolutely awesome!

  2. Richard Hayward

    I love dogs in art, and this is one I get to keep. Time to get cutting and folding!

  3. I agree with Sasha but who is that elderly gentleman next to Suzanne? Surely he is well past retirement age.

  4. How about a cat??

  5. Hello Sarah, I work at Rare Books & Special Collections at the University of Sydney Library. I’m currently looking at ways to present supplementary online content for our exhibitions, and came across the page for the St Gill exhibition during the course of my research. I think the presentation and content are great, and not just because I’m a dog lover (I can’t wait to make the papercraft dog!). If you have time, I’d be grateful if we could have a brief chat/email conversation about what tools you and your team use to create your exhibition companion sites.

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