May and Herbert Gibbs Collection

Herbert loved the Swan River


The M.T.S., South Perth [Narrows]
Herbert Gibbs

Moving to South Perth satisfied Herbert's love of open water. He often sailed on the Swan River, first in The Gadfly, and then in Psyche. The family's river excursions were fun-filled occasions that May remembered fondly. Finding coves along the way, the family would picnic, read, sketch or paint.

Visions of the Swan often reinforced an Arcadian theme popular in colonial landscape painting that was European in mood. However, with his eye for accuracy and sensitivity to light, Herbert evokes a period of Perth's history that has dimmed with time. In the still beauty of the river, with yachts dotted along its surface, this image recalls, with a mixture of realism and romanticism, the days of ferry services and river traffic connecting South Perth with other parts of Perth. Herbert presents a unique scene that reflects not only his love of the river but its importance to Perth's identity.