SALA Featured Artist - Tony BISHOP
Chuffing around, 1990
Chuffing around by Adelaide-based artist and educator Tony Bishop is one of the Gallery’s most loved works of art. The installation is comprised of a circle of black birds called choughs (pronounced chuffs) hewn from timber. Frequently mistaken for crows or ravens, choughs are curious and sociable birds that live communally in the woodlands and open forests of south-eastern Australia. The birds spend the great majority of their time on the ground and here Bishop has displaced them, with humour and wit, within the art gallery context.
Nearby Arthur Boyd has incorporated black birds in his painting depicting the Old Testament story of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king who was banished to the wilderness. In Boyd’s expressionistic landscape, black birds bear witness to the king’s fall from grace. The Nebuchadnezzar paintings were inspired by Boyd’s witnessing of a self-immolation protest against the Vietnam War at Hampstead Heath in London. For both artists, the black bird suggests an allegorical significance.