Collections

The SA Maritime Museum preserves the oldest nautical collection in Australia. In 1872 the Port Adelaide Institute began a museum collection to complement its library and its educational and social programs. That collection grew over the following century reflecting the seafarers and the ships that visited Port Adelaide. It is now held in trust at the SA Maritime Museum.

The Maritime Museum’s collection ranges from the Port Adelaide Lighthouse that was first lit in 1869 to a plaque that explorer Matthew Flinders left at Memory Cove in 1802 to mark the loss to eight seafarers. It includes figureheads, nautical instruments, bathing costumes, shipwreck artefacts, paintings, models and vessels.

Our scope is the maritime heritage of South Australia from the coast to inland waters. The collection of over almost 20,000 objects and over 20,000 images is at once a window to the heritage of the local community and to the ships of the world..

Three Ketches

Oil painting on canvas of ketches Active, Bronzewing and Malcolm on the Port River, by John Giles.

Registered in 1873 and broken up in the Port in 1960, Active spent most of its trading life in the Gulf of St Vincent. Bronzewing was built in 1873 in Tasmania by the Hawkins Brothers and had several owners in Port Adelaide. The ketch traded to ports in the Spencer Gulf and the south-east of South Australia until 1914 when it was grounded off King Island, Bass Strait. Malcolm was built in 1875 at Port Adelaide and was a familiar sight in the Port Wakefield trade until the 1920s.

Artist John Giles loved the Port. A local tailor, he was renowned as an excellent cutter and fitter. While his business thrived, he spent every spare moment capturing the colour and movement of the working harbour. Giles painted on the spot, recording the Port at work and play through depression, war, and boom. His paintings are snapshots in time, evoking a port rowdy with industry and congested with steamers, ketches and sail boats. Where others saw smoke stacks and steam funnels, Giles glimpsed great beauty. Perched on the shoreline, Giles made detailed on-site studies and worked them up into finished paintings in his backyard studio. A member of the Port Adelaide institute, Giles donated this work as a token of thanks.

Artist: John Giles 

Associated Locations: Port Adelaide, South Australia, Inner Harbor

 

Caption: Painting , THREE KETCHES IN THE RIVER

AccessionNo: HT8714(m)

Depth: 80 mm

Width: 985 mm

Height: 1320 mm

Material: Canvas, wood, oil paint, gilded gesso.

Date Created: 1937.

Physical Description:
The Three Ketches, by John Giles. Three ketches moored opposite bank of Port River to Customs House. The ketches depicted are ACTIVE, BRONZEWING and the MALCOLM . A person in a smalll dinghy rows near Active. In the foreground is broken f wharf fencing. A steamer is moored on the opposite bank in front of Harbors Board building. Gilded gesso frame.

Significance:
South Australia’s ketch fleet was cherished as a romantic remnant of the Age of Sail. Sailors and captains sketched their ketches or commissioned professional artists to capture their lines and beauty. Artist John Giles painted the changing Port for over 30 years. A prolific artist, this painting is typical of his style and ability to capture the colour and movement of a bustling harbour. Painting such as Three Ketches reflected his deep attachment to the Port and its vessels.

Provenance:
Artist John Giles loved the Port. A local tailor, he was renowned as an excellent cutter and fitter. While his business thrived, he spent every spare moment capturing the colour and movement of the working harbour. Giles painted on the spot, recording the Port at work and play through Depression, war, and boom. His paintings are snapshots in time, evoking a port rowdy with industry and congested with steamers, ketches and sail boats. Where others saw smoke stacks and steam funnels, Giles glimpsed great beauty. Perched on the shoreline, Giles made detailed on-site studies and worked them up into finished paintings in his backyard studio. A member of the Port Adelaide Institute, Giles donated this work as a token of thanks on 20/10/1943..