Birdwatching at the Gallery

‘The Great Bower Bird’ 1971.© Wendy Whiteley

Golem On Excursion at the Art Gallery of NSW
Brett Whiteley: Feathers and Flight

Calling all birdwatchers! Grab your binoculars and head to the gallery, because the Art Gallery of New South Wales is hosting an exhibition on Brett Whiteley’s birds.

Witness the love affair that began in his boyhood when the artist began collecting bird’s eggs. This fascination with birds turned into a budding dialogue between Whiteley and his feathery friends. At one point in his life, Whiteley resided in Lavender Bay, a two-bedroom house with a kitchen, and a ‘bird room’ dedicated to his feathered pets who would be enclosed behind chicken wire. In a notebook, he once wrote that he should be reincarnated into a bird if such a thing were possible.

In Whiteley’s work, birds symbolise freedom via flight, while eggs symbolise fertility.

Paint and canvas capture Whiteley’s budding interest in birds, and all you birdwatchers would be ever so impressed with this Australian talent. The NSW Gallery will have a field guide ready to direct you through the works of the Australian artist. While these birds are mostly silent, their colours will grab the attention of any birdwatcher. The bright reds, yellows, and greens will ensnare your attention.

Be sure to have pencil and paper ready to capture that Lyrebird (1972-73). Tie the laces of your boots, pack that hat and daypack, and trek on over to the Brett Whiteley Studio and spend a day with Whiteley’s feathery friends.

What to bring:
– Binoculars x1
– Sunhat x1
– Snacks (nothing too messy to cause scorn from a security guard)
– Study shoes x1 pair
– Field guide x1 (provided by the NSW Gallery)

A selection of birds from Whiteley’s body of work appears below.

‘The pink heron’, 1969, Art Gallery of NSW. © Wendy Whiteley

‘Satin bower bird’, 1988. Brett Whiteley Studio Collection © Wendy Whiteley

‘The lyrebird’ 1972-3. Brett Whiteley Studio Collection. © Wendy Whiteley

Free Entry
4 June 2020 – 2021
Brett Whiteley Studio
2 Reaper Street, Surry Hills