May and Herbert Gibbs Collection

Abiding Passions Exhibition

View images from 'Abiding Passions'.

May Gibbs remains one of Australia's most loved authors and illustrators. For the better part of two decades-from the late 1880s to the early 1900s-she lived at her parents' home at the corner of Harper Terrace and Suburban Road (now Mill Point Road) in South Perth.

These were May's formative years. Her parents, Herbert and Cecilia, both trained as artists in England, and music, theatre and books were central to their lives. May was nurtured by a rich family life, never more than a stone's throw from the world of imagination. Free of inhibition and with an audience ever at hand, May learned to entertain with intelligence and wit.




Boat Sketch, Herbert Gibbs, 1879


Herbert and his daughter shared a special bond, and May saluted her father as the key to her confidence and zeal-particularly as an illustrator. It was Cecilia, however, who most brought music and drama into their lives, sweeping May into the exhilarating world of theatre while Herbert maintained a lifelong fascination for boats. For Herbert Gibbs and his family, there was no such thing as an empty vessel. People were replete with abiding passions. Here, we are privileged to glimpse some of the family's own.