Hyde Park Convict Barracks, Sydney
Mural Project
The Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales (NSW) commissioned me to create a mural depicting the journey of convicts from England to Australia.

The first large tableau illustrates a scene at the Tyburn Tree gallows just out of London circa 1760's and the crowds that would attend such executions all the way through to prisoners fare-welling loved ones, 1800's, to eventual arrival in Sydney Cove, 1830's.

The second mural depicts a typical convict work gang at morning muster within the grounds of the actual Barracks building. The Barracks building was designed by Francis Greenway, himself a convict transported to Australia.

Project time from brief to completion was three months. Actual painting time, ie oil paint to canvas, was just under four weeks. The compositions and drawings for this project were created digitally and based upon sketches, 3D layouts/models and photography of actors in authentic dress and costume.

Those digital drawings were printed onto canvas, (in four panels, 3 panels for mural 1, one panel for mural 2), which were stretched and subsequently painted in oils.

Total length of mural 1 was 180" x 42"  (4.5M x 1M). The final painted panels were then scanned and the final mural printed to 15M x 3.6M on canvas strips. These strips were then wallpapered to a false wall.

Mural two was also painted in oils on canvas at 1.5M x 1M with a final print of approx 5M x 3.6M.

The first section of mural 1 was directly inspired by William Hogarths, The Idle Prentice. This image was also the basis of the brief for this section.
Full painting of scene 1. Oil on canvas 60" x 42"  (153cm x 107cm)
Detail 1
Detail 2
Detail 3
Detail 4
Section two was inspired by the illustration, Black-eyed Sue and Sweet Poll of Plymouth taking leave of their lovers who are going to Botany Bay.

Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an5577509
Full painting of scene 2. Oil on canvas 66" x 42"  (168cm x 107cm)
Detail 5

This was my interpretation of that scene with the addition of a convict giving his wife/girlfriend a hand carved love token.

Detail 6
The full painting of scene 3, mural 1. Oil on canvas 54" x 42"  (137cm x 107cm)
Detail 7
The portrait of Bungaree by Augustus Earle, with Fort Macquarie in the background.
Detail 8

Bungaree, the Aboriginal man who would greet and welcome the new convicts to Sydney.

More info on Bungaree here.

The final painted tableau digitally stitched together.
This is the original illustration by Augustus Earle that was the basis of the brief for mural 2. It depicts a typical work gang from the Barracks.
Full painting of Mural 2. Oil on canvas 60' x 42"  (153cm x 107cm)

This is my interpretation of the Augustus Earle illustration as seen above. The brief was for early morning muster at 6:40am.
Detail 1

The Superintendent is checking that convicts are not wearing a second shirt. Convicts were issued with two sets of clothes and frequently tried selling them once outside of the Barracks grounds so as to buy rum or tobacco.
Detail 2
A strip of the final inkjet canvas print on the floor next to the original painting. Enlargement of approx 350%

Apologies for the low quality pic, I shot this with my iPhone!

Early painting test to determine final painting size, scanning and enlargement.

Size A2
Detail 1
Once the drawing was approved it was then printed onto canvas which I then stretched onto heavy duty stretcher bars. I then coated the canvas with a toned acrylic wash to seal in the (inkjet) drawing.
A work in progress shot in my living room.. 'ahem'.. studio! My usual studio (the bedroom) was too small for this project..

The first two panels together for mural 1.
Mural 1 on the wall inside the Hyde Park Barracks, Convicts exhibition.
Mural 2 soon after mounting. I had to retouch some misalignment and paint in any gaps between the strips.. hence the ladders!
Thanks to:

Tim Gurling-Butcher, Inara Walden and Kieran Larkin at the Historic Houses Trust Sydney for the opportunity to paint such a fantastic work and subject. Thanks also for taking the plunge and agreeing to this being a oil painting project!

To Les Cook and family at CIE-ELLE digital imaging for scanning, printing and good humor!


Also to Stephen Gapps and his crew of re-enactors who supplied fantastic costumes, enormous patience and really got into the part!