William Salmon described his art as emerging from the landscape. He trained initially in graphic arts at Swinburne Technical College and worked as a textile designer then studied in the UK and Italy before returning to Australia where he taught in SA and NSW. In 1963 he began to broadcast for the ABC's Argonauts children's program and also presented specialist art programs for ABC television.
William (Bill) Salmon was born in Geelong on 9 April 1928, but spent his early years on one of the properties managed by his father, John Walter Salmon. His mother, Clarice Bennett Taylor, encouraged him to think of a career in architecture, but he was not interested. His paternal grandfather had been a doctor in Creswick. Daryl Lindsay, another doctor’s son, was a family friend and encouraged the boy to think of art. As a compromise, after leaving Geelong College, he studied commercial art at Swinburne Technical College and worked for a time as a designer for Prestige Fabrics. After the War he travelled to London where he continued his studies at the Slade and then the Academia di Belle Arti, in Florence. In 1953 he and his first wife, Adele Love, returned to Australia where he taught for the South Australian School of Art. In 1958 they moved to Sydney where he taught at East Sydney Technical College while holding frequent exhibitions of his bush landscapes at Macquarie Galleries. Sydney enabled him to renew his friendship with David Strachan, whose father had also been a doctor at Creswick. Along with other similarly inclined artists, including Donald Friend and Russell Drysdale, they enjoyed frequent painting expeditions to the old gold mining town of Hill End. In 1963 when Jeffrey Smart relocated to Italy, he invited Salmon to take his place on the ABC’s radio program, The Argonauts. Salmon adopted the name Apelles for these broadcasts. He soon made the transition to television, presenting programs on Roundabout and On the Inside. His television interview subjects included Donald Friend, Sidney Nolan and Lloyd Rees. He also made programs on Fred Williams and John Olsen. In 1970 he married Rosemary Clynes. He remained committed to country life. He designed and built the house at his farm Goannamanna, near Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. The bush, with its trees and rocks of the mountains became the subject of many of his paintings. He was an active member of the local bushfire brigade and some of the subjects of his paintings were of landscapes regenerating after fire. In the early 1980s the family moved to a farm near Dungog, which also became the subject for his art.In his later years he became an innovative farmer, always aware of changes in the environment.