Main content area

Ellis Silas in Papua New Guinea: an artist’s view

BACK TO ALL STORIES

 

 

Ellis Luciano Silas (1885-1972) is an Australian World War One artist. 

He was one of only three artists to record Australian participation at Gallipoli from first-hand experience and the only one of these to paint battle scenes. He returned to Australia in 1921 and lived in Sydney, working as a commercial artist and contributing articles and cartoons to the Bulletin.

In 1922 he travelled to the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea where he lived and painted for 2 years. This resulted in four diaries with notes and sketches of his time there.

The photograph below was removed from inside the front cover of Ellis Silas' second volume of Impressions of an artist in Papua, showing Silas in his tent studio with a Papuan model. Inscribed at bottom "Bostock - Enl".

Silas was on the islands until early 1924 observing people, places and relationships. Some of his observations touched a nerve when his writing became public.  In a letter, dated 29 Feb. 1929,  Silas writes,

 "... I did not anticipate that these books would become national property consequently in such cases where I have adversely criticised the white inhabitants of Papua, to those of you who may peruse these pages, I pray of you, use a kindly discretion ..."

Book III contains pen and ink drawings and sketches, including a preface written in Port Moresby, 1923, index of subjects and lists of Papuan names and terms.

c027670001.jpg
Part 01: Photograph of Ellis Silas with Papuan woman, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027670001
View collection item detail
c027680188.jpg
Item 03: Impressions of an artist in Papua, mainly of the Trobriand Islands by Ellis Silas, Book III, 27 March 1923-3 January 1924
27 March 1923-3 January 1924
Digital ID: 
c027680188
View collection item detail
c027690005.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690005
View collection item detail
c027690007.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690007
View collection item detail
c027690009.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690009
View collection item detail
c027690011.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690011
View collection item detail
c027690013.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690013
View collection item detail
c027690016.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690016
View collection item detail
c027690019.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690019
View collection item detail
c027690021.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690021
View collection item detail
c027690025.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690025
View collection item detail
c027690027.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690027
View collection item detail
c027690029.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690029
View collection item detail
c027690031.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690031
View collection item detail
c027690023.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690023
View collection item detail
c027690033.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690033
View collection item detail
c027690035.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690035
View collection item detail
c027690037.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690037
View collection item detail
c027690039.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690039
View collection item detail
c027690041.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690041
View collection item detail
c027690043.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690043
View collection item detail
c027690045.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690045
View collection item detail
c027690047.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690047
View collection item detail
c027690049.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690049
View collection item detail
c027690051.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690051
View collection item detail
c027690053.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690053
View collection item detail
c027690055.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690055
View collection item detail
c027690057.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
Digital ID: 
c027690057
View collection item detail
c027690059.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690059
View collection item detail
c027690060.jpg
Item 04: Vignettes of life in Papua, by Ellis Silas, 1922
1922
Digital ID: 
c027690060
View collection item detail