The discovery of gold in the regions north-west of Melbourne in 1851 triggered a huge influx of miners to the district. With many men seeking fortune from mining, the populations of small towns grew rapidly and, during the height of the gold rush, Creswick, some 18 kilometres north of Ballarat, had a population of more than 25000 people.
In Miners and cradle, Creswick Percy Lindsay presents the physical labour of cradle mining: the backbreaking trawling and sifting of the earth in search of gold. The industrious miners wheel their barrows of earth up and over the heavily worked land. Lindsay painted this picture outdoors, seeking to capture the momentary conditions of light and atmosphere.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, as a young artist Lindsay did not settle in Melbourne to study or pursue painting as a profession. In 1895 he attended the National Gallery School in Melbourne for less than a term, returning shortly after to his hometown of Creswick. The works Lindsay produced in Creswick between 1890 and 1900 are his best pictures. These rural scenes are important images by an Australian artist – who was born and trained locally – depicting his region.