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Published on 23 August 2022
Bishop John Bayton AM GCSJ ChLJ OMLJ, a key figure in establishing Rockhampton’s nationally significant art collection, has died at the age of 92.
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.
Bayton was himself an artist and an active patron of the arts, and is remembered by many 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 McKendry 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.
Rockhampton Regional Council Communities and Heritage spokesperson Cr Drew Wickerson said that 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.
IMAGE: Bishop John Bayton AM GCSJ  ChLJ  OMLJ, Merilyn Luck (former Art Gallery Trust Chair), Governor Penelope Wensley at the 2011 launch of the Gold and Bayton Awards.
Rockhampton Regional Council acknowledges Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we live, learn and work. We pay our respect to their Elders, both past and present, and to our shared future.
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