Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Rockhampton mourns passing of arts leader

A key figure in establishing Rockhampton’s nationally significant art collection, Bishop John Bayton AM, has died at the age of 91.

Bishop Bayton was a keen supporter of the arts in Rockhampton in the gallery’s infancy, and was a key advisor in Mayor Rex Pilbeam’s scheme to rapidly grow the Rockhampton art collection.

Rockhampton Regional Council Communities and Heritage spokesperson, Councillor Drew Wickerson said Bishop Bayton’s passing and legacy was important for the Rockhampton community to acknowledge.

“Bishop Bayton was not only a strong advocate for the establishment of one of the most significant collections of works by notable Australian artists but both integral in the selection of these works and also for the encouragement of local emerging artists.

“His passion for the arts will live on through Rockhampton Museum of Art’s Bayton Award,” Cr Wickerson said.

Bayton was himself an artist and an active patron of the arts, and is being remembered for his generosity, equanimity and avuncular temperament.

The Right Reverend John Bayton was installed as Dean of Rockhampton in 1968.

He was the Chair of Rockhampton Art Gallery’s Art Acquisition Fund in 1975. Together with committee members including then Mayor Rex Pilbeam, Architect Neil McKendrie and Gallery Director Don Taylor, John Bayton was responsible for the purchase of some of Rockhampton Art Gallery’s most significant works of art through the Whitlam Government’s Contemporary Australian Art for Art Galleries Scheme. The purchase included works by Charles Blackman, John Brack, Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale, Rupert Bunny and Fred Williams.

The Rockhampton Museum of Art’s Bayton Award, a biennial art prize open to Central Queensland artists, is named for Bishop Bayton and his contributions to the arts.

The Bayton Award, which commenced in 2012, will return in 2022 for its first iteration in the new Rockhampton Museum of Art space.

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