Adam Gustavus Ball

Adam Gustavus Ball 1821-1882

Sketcher, Explorer and civil engineer emigrated from Ireland to New South Wales in early 1839.He worked in Sydney as a civil engineer for eight years before taking a job to move a herd of 2000 cattle overland to Adelaide. He remained in Adelaide and surrounding areas working as a surveyor and taking part in expeditions and exploration of South Australia. He soon became known on outlying sheep and cattle stations for his skill with the pencil. His sketches include incidents such as cattle musters, emu hunting, kangaroo hunting, camp scenes all executed with exceptional detail and skill. His work was popular and was displayed in many hotels and private homes.

Ball exhibited with the Society of Arts at Adelaide in 1859 and 1860. Many of his sketches were reproduced as photographs by Townsend Duryea and G.J. Freeman in the 1860s and early 1870s and apparently sold well. Notably, a photograph of a pencil drawing of the death of the Victorian explorer Robert O’Hara Burke carrying these initials and titled ‘When I am Dead, Place My Revolver in My Hand and Leave Me Unburied as I Lie’ (1871, Mitchell Library) was included in Duryea’s Adelaide Album (1866) otherwise filled with photographic views of Adelaide streets and buildings.

Adam Gustavus Ball died at his residence in Childers Street, North Adelaide, on 22 August 1882, aged 61. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.