Raymond (Ray) Ching

Limited Edition Prints

Raymond Harris-Ching

New Zealand (b. 1939)

From studios in both New Zealand and the west country of England, Ray Ching has painted the people and the birds around him and with his engaging magic realism, for more than six decades. He is represented in New Zealand with work in The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatū, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Dunedin Public Art Gallery. 

Books include: THE BIRD PAINTINGS, Collins, 1978;  THE ART OF RAYMOND CHING, Collins, 1981; NEW ZEALAND BIRDS, Reed/Methuen, 1986; WILD PORTRAITS, SeTo Publishing, 1988; STUDIES & SKETCHES OF A BIRD PAINTER, Lansdowne Editions, 1981; VOICE FROM THE WILDERNESS, Swan Hill Press, 1994; RAY HARRIS CHING/ JOURNEY OF AN ARTIST, Briar Patch Press, 1990. Most recently, Ray Ching has engaged the exploration of Aesopian fables where he has relocated the tales to New Zealand Aotearoa with AESOP’S KIWI FABLES, 2012 and DAWN CHORUS, 2014, both published by David Bateman Ltd. 

Books in preparation are his long-awaited illustrated memoir, ‘The Huia & our Tears’, paintings and stories of this most Tapu of all of Aotearoa’s fabled birds. Also in production, the definitive large paper size volume; aESOP’S KIWI FABLES IN MY STUDIO.

books & catalogues

featured painting

A commission from Sir David Attenborough

'End to the Squandering of Beauty. Entry of the Birds of Paradise into Western Thought'

This painting was commissioned in 2011 by Sir David Attenborough and painted by Ray Ching  between August and December 2011. It features on the cover and pages 8 to 19 of Sir David’s  book, Drawn from Paradise, The Discovery, Art and Natural History of the Birds of Paradise.

Titled ‘End to the Squandering of Beauty. Entry of the Birds of Paradise into Western Thought, this painting is an allegory depicting the arrival of the Birds of Paradise into European culture. These birds came as skins, prepared by New Guinea Natives who had not preserved any of the birds’ wings or feet. This gave rise to stories that, as birds without feet couldn’t ever come to land; they must therefore have come from Paradise.

All of the birds have been painted in their life size and the painting shows a noisy gathering of most familiar, European birds, swirling around, all screeching and calling at the arrival of the first Birds of Paradise, which are carried in a hammock by two young herons, rather like the stork, in legend, which is responsible for delivering our babies. The first Birds of Paradise arrived in Seville in 1522, the second came to Prague, the third to London, then Paris and this is imagined in a fantastical landscape running along the base of the picture. The Birds of Paradise included by the artist in the painting are: Splendid Astrapia, Carola’s Parotia, Paradise Riflebird, Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Superb bird of Paradise, Magnificent Bird of Paradise, Wilson’s Bird of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Blue Bird of Paradise, Red Bird of Paradise, Wallace Standard wing, Raggiana Bird of Paradise, Pale-billed Sicklebill.

The painting takes its title from a quotation by the scientist and discoverer of many Birds of Paradise, Alfred Russel Wallace in his great work, The Malay Archipeligo, 1856:

I gazed upon this thing of beauty. I thought of the long ages of the past, during which the successive generations of this little creature had run their course, year by year, of being born, and living and dying amid these dark and gloomy woods, with no intelligent eye to gaze upon their loveliness – to all appearance such a wanton waste of beauty.”