South Australia Illustrated: Colonial painting in the Land of Promise provides insight into the remarkable development of the colony of South Australia.

During the 1830s the British province of South Australia was promoted to emigrants as the 'land of promise', offering the enticing prospect of a fresh start and prosperous life. The rapidly growing colony was fortunate to have among its population several artists who were deeply inspired by their experiences in a new land including Martha Berkeley, S.T Gill, William Light, Alexander Schramm and J.M Skipper.

South Australia Illustrated offers a rich and diverse picture of the development of the colony. Drawing almost 200 works of art from the Art Gallery’s collection, the exhibition also features key works generously lent by private, state and national collections.

From as early as 1836, watercolours by J.M Skipper provided insight into the first days of arrival, while surveyor-general William Light's beautiful landscapes of the late 1830s are informed by his topographer's eye. S.T. Gill's lively street scenes record growth and success and G.F. Angas's watercolours - intended as images for South Australia Illustrated published in London - encouraged further emigration.

Towards the latter part of the nineteenth century, works by H.P. Gill, Louis Tannert and Alice and Helen Hambidge reflect a growing interest in figurative and genre painting, while the landscapes of young Hans Heysen suggest a burgeoning interest in national identity through landscape, which became the hallmark of much of Australia’s art in the early twentieth century.