Opening event: October 12, 2016
Exhibition dates: October 13, 2016 - February 25, 2017
View the public programs for Our feathered friends... the art of birds exhibition.
Our feathered friends… the art of birds celebrates the diversity of Australian birdlife through the lens of artists’ depictions.
The exhibition, Our feathered friends… the art of birds, is presented by the Charles Darwin University Art Collection and Art Gallery. It celebrates the diversity of Australian birdlife through the lens of artists’ depictions of our feathered friends.
Our feathered friends… the art of birds profiles creative interpretations of bird species, by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists that illustrate the significant relationship between people and birds in Central Australia and the Top End. Innately, the exhibition reflects the regions’ abundant and diverse birdlife.
The sculptures, works on paper, weavings, ceramics, multi-media and paintings that form Our feathered friends… the art of birds are largely drawn from the University’s extensive Art Collection, and promises to reveal some hidden gems. Recent acquisitions to the Collection, such as a bronze maquette, Chinute chinute, which Larrakia elder Koolpinyah Richard Barnes created based on his 2010 public art commission in Darwin CBD, will be featured. The Larrakia people believe that Chinute chinute is a spiritual ancestor who manifests itself from time to time and stand as sentential at the Stokes Hill area.
Works by Gary Shead, Jonny Bulunbulun, David Malangi, Greg Dare, Therese Ritchie, Peggy Jones, Bryan Bulley, Amy Johnson, Merran Sierakowski, Alfonso Puautjimi, Chayni Henry, Grace Kumbie, Jasmine Jan, Pennyrose Wiggins and Jane Mervin, to name a few, will inspire visitors. Additional loans will be presented in the exhibition with works on loan from the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education Art Collection. Other loans from local private collections and artists will be featured.
The CDU Art Gallery also features The Flyway Print Exchange as part of Our feathered friends… the art of birds. This initiative features prints on paper by 20 artists from nine countries that together form the East Asian Australasian Flyway. Annually, Darwin and Alice Springs are visited by shorebirds as they replenish themselves on their annual global migrations between Earth’s North and South Poles. By contrast, a recent major acquisition of 42 works that form an installation entitled Jurlpu kuja kalu nyinami Yurntumu-wana - Birds that live around Yuendumu, created by Warlpiri artists, provides a colourful and vibrant depiction of abundant bush birds that reside in the arid Australian desert.
Another highlight of Our feathered friends… the art of birds is a display of 19 original lithographic and hand-coloured prints by John Gould and H.C. Richter, produced during 1840-48. These depictions of species first appeared in a series of lavishly illustrated multi-volume folio works on Australian fauna including The birds of Australia, 7 vol., 1840-1848. Many of the species depicted in these prints, such as the Rufus Owl (Athene rufa), Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides), and the Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii / Halycon Macleayii) were identified by Gould’s field assistant, John Gilbert during visits to Port Essington in 1840 and 1841. These magnificent prints were created in London, based on bird-skins and field sketches. Although John Gould is attributed with creating these prints, with Richter, recent research suggests that his wife Elizabeth Gould was the person responsible for the actual lithography.
Another gem in Our feathered friends… the art of birds includes ink illustrations of exotic birds created by Dr Chris Healey in 1976, during his tenure at CDU. These fine interpretations of birds were created in Kalam territory in the East New Guinea Highlands and were published in Birds of My Kalam Country by Ian Saem Majnep and Ralph Bulmer, OUP, 1977. Ranging from the Greater sicklebill (Epimachus fastosous) and the quizzical looking Papuan hornbill (Aceros plicatus) to the delicate Torrent lark (Gralliana bruijni), these illustrations remind us of the exquisite and unusual birdlife in our wider nearby region.
To reinforce with visitors the vulnerability of endangered bird species in the Top End, local artist Chips Mackinolty has created a rendition of the endangered Yellow Chat sub-species, (Epthianura crocea tunneyi) whose habitats in the Northern Territory include the East Alligator River and Adelaide River floodplains. A current PhD candidate at CDU seeks to investigate the habitat management plans that may foster improved conditions to assist the survival of this creature.
Our feathered friends… the art of birds also features multi-media works of art. Bower, by Pip McManaus, captures the process of a bower being built in her Alice Springs backyard. This video takes the viewer into a rarely seen world of the male bower bird as he performs his craft of constructing a bower to attract a female. Locals who love birds, created by Johanna Bell and Sarah Mackie, explores what it is about feathered friends that fascinates humans. Through the voices of five people this high-definition video reminds us that we do not have to look far to find someone who loves birds! Locals who love birds is a public art initiative, supported by Darwin City Council.
Our feathered friends… the art of birds will be accompanied by a suite of public programs featuring academic research that is spearheaded by staff and students from CDU. Internationally renowned bird specialist, Professor Steven Garnett will deliver a public lecture on birdlife in the NT on Wednesday 9 November. A symposium of talks by CDU doctoral candidates will discuss current research into bird species, habitat management and migration habits at the CDU Art Gallery on 16 November as well as a discussion about pubic art with Koolpinyah Barnes, Johanna Bell and Sahn Cramer will occur at the CDU Art Gallery on 19 October.
The exhibition will be opened on 12 October at 5.30pm by Koolpinyah Richard Barnes and Professor Stephen Garnett. It is open to the public from 13 October 2016 – 25 February 2017. The CDU Art Gallery will be closed from 17 December 2016 until 18 January 2017.
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