Painter, illustrator, teacher and art critic, John Baily was born in Western Australia. He attended the South Australian School of Art before travelling in the United States of America on a Harkness Scholarship, and in Europe. He has held many positions including that of President of the Contemporary Art Society of South Australia, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Chairman of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, Chairman of the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust. Director of the New South Wales College of Arts, and Member, Art Advisory Committee, Parliament House Construction Authority, Canberra. His work has been displayed in numerous exhibitions. Baily works mainly in oils, watercolours, gouache and vitreous enamel on copper, and his subjects are frequently landscape and motifs with primitive meanings.
Heavily impasted PORT NOARLUNGA CLIFFS, 1951, is an evocative work, depicting a languid summer's day at this popular holiday resort south of Adelaide.
Painted from a "bird's eye view", the artist contrasts the soft green grassy overlay of the cliff tops with the rugged ochre of the sides, which "step down" to meet the sea. Tiny figures wander along the sand looking for seashells, or paddle in the rocky pools. The high horizon of the calm sea meets the luminous sky, creating a work of relaxing brightness in the Heidelberg tradition.