Convict period: 1850–68

The need for convict labour and British capital to assist with public works and the construction of buildings and roads gradually became evident to the struggling colonists. But the first convict ship didn’t arrive until 1850, 21 years after the Swan River Colony had been established and also the same year transportation ended in New South Wales and three years before it ceased in Van Diemen’s Land. In 1850, the population in the West was approximately 500; over the next 16 years, nearly 10,000 male convicts were transported. But, unlike the convicts sent to New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, none were professionally trained artists. While Swan River convicts became cabinetmakers and jewellers, there are only two documented painters among the Western Australian convicts, both of whom were transported for forgery, James Walsh and Thomas Browne.

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