Raymond Harris-Ching1939 -
Born: 1939, Wellington
Dropping out of high school around the age of twelve, the only school experience that proved invaluable to Ray Harris Ching was a class trip to a museum where he chanced upon a collection of stuffed humming birds. This experience sparked a lifelong passion for birds and wildlife. He continued to go the local museums and borrow stuffed birds to draw. At nineteen, he took his first figure-drawing class and was amazed at his own skill and enjoyment. He apprenticed and eventually became the art director at an advertising agency, but, wholly dissatisfied, he turned to painting. In the 1960s, Ching began to exhibit and sell his paintings. But his career as an artist did not really take off until Sir Peter Scott discovered his work. Scott suggested that Ching visit England and within a short time, Ching relocated on a semi-permanent basis, taking frequent trips back to New Zealand. In 1986, Ching created 250 plates for the successful Reader's Digest Book of British Birds.
Ching greatly differs from other wildlife artists, separating nature from art. He is interested in conservation but does not demonstrate it in his art. When he creates a painting, he is not concerned with the habits, environment, or history of a particular bird. Ching is occupied by the external appearance of the bird, colorings, markings, and textures. He accurately draws and paints his birds, but they do not appear stiff, rather poetic and enchanting. With a limited palette and attention to detail, he creates beauty in ordinary birds, attempting to reveal his subjects in a new light. Ching often paints a single bird with minimal background. "It is important to me to deny [the backgrounds]. I don't want to tell you anything about real nature studies. Other people can do that. I want to tell you about my concerns at this moment with this thing that I am painting."