Clifford Bayliss

1912 - 1989

Bernard Smith, the late, eminent art historian said of Clifford Bayliss in his foreword to our first exhibition back in 1995; "The range of technical skills are diverse… a brilliant draftsman who directed his skills towards fantasy and the grotesque… Bayliss is an expatriate of distinction that we should know more about than we do. Examples of his work should be in all our public galleries.” Since then, the National Gallery in Canberra has acquired twenty two works , the National Gallery of Victoria, 8 works, and the Australian War Memorial has three.

In 1993, Alan McCulloch said of Bayliss,

"....the NGV school was the only place for young aspiring artists. There were some wonderful students. Roger Kemp was a tall, spectacular figure at the NGV in those days; quite a romantic and he had a lot of talent. But the star was Clifford Bayliss who could draw like Leonardo, and was a bohemian when it was not done. Bayliss was very poor and  did these beautiful drawings, and seemed destined to win the travelling scholarship, which he did. But he won at the wrong time, just before the war, and arrived in London and vanished into the services....." Conversations with Alan McCulloch by Christopher Heathcote, Art Monthly, April 1993, no. 58, page 15 

Clifford Bayliss
 was born in Footscray, where he attended the local primary and technical schools, before training as an engineer with Mephan Ferguson. With a passion for drawing, he went on to the National Gallery School where he won the Travelling Scholarship for 1935. He left Australia in 1936, never to return.

Bayliss arrived in London just before the outbreak of World War II. During the war he led a rescue squad in a central London blitz. This had a profound effect on him. At the end of the war he worked as an excavation plant manager in the north of England, then later as an assistant to the photographer Geoffrey Gilbert.

Between 1955 and 1963 he worked as a production assistant at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, then taught technical drawing part-time at the London College of Printing; the Central School of Art and Croydon College of Art and Technology. He continued to draw and paint until a few days before he died and although he never returned to Australia, his main aim was always to send the work back here.


Solo exhibitions

Clifford Bayliss: Drawings, gouaches and decor, Leveson Street Gallery, Melbourne, 1965  Opened by John Sinclair
Clifford Bayliss, 1912-1989: Surrealist Drawings from the 1940s, Bridget McDonnell Gallery, Melbourne, 1995
Clifford BaylissBridget McDonnell Gallery, 2004
Clifford Bayliss: paintings, drawings and sculptures from the estate of the artist in LondonBridget McDonnell Gallery, 2007
Clifford Bayliss: paintings, drawings and gouaches 1940s-1980s from the estate of the artist, London, Bridget McDonnell Gallery, 2011

Alannah Coleman, Bernard Smith and John Barkes were instrumental in enabling this gallery to show the works of Clifford Bayliss.

The exhibitions would not have eventuated without the support of Cliff's widow,  Josephine, to whom we are very grateful.