Raymond Ching is considered one of New Zealand’s greatest contemporary bird and figure painters.
After two successful exhibitions of paintings of natural history subjects in Auckland, in 1966 and 1967, Wellington-born Ray Ching moved to England, where he undertook the herculean task of completing 230 full-colour plates in less than a year, basing his images on museum specimens with input from ornithologists. Published in 1969, the Reader’s Digest Book of British Birds is claimed to be the world’s most successful and biggest selling ornithological book.
Working primarily in oils and acrylics, Ching’s works are incredibly detailed with an almost photographic quality. Also renowned for his paintings of animals and humans, Ching places them in a setting that defies the very realism for which he is known.
In 2010 Ching ventured into the genre of graphic novels with the first publication, by David Bateman Ltd, ‘Aesop’s Kiwi Fables -Paintings by Ray Ching’. This publication accompanied the first of two exhibitions at ARTIS Gallery. In 2014, ‘Dawn Chorus‘ was published (also by Bateman Publishing) and accompanied another two further exhibitions at ARTIS Gallery in 2014 and 2015.
Ching’s most recent book, ‘Aesop’s Outback Fables’, is a limited edition, published in 2018 by ARTIS Gallery to accompany the exhibition of Ching’s Australian fauna & flora paintings.
At the heart of all his work to date, is Ray Ching’s great empathy for his avian subjects – those from New Zealand in particular. While a conservation message has never been a conscious part of his work, he has stated his determination to contribute to the raising of public awareness of the precarious state of our endangered birds.
In 2011 Ching was commissioned by Sir David Attenborough to produce a painting to illustrate the cover of his book, ‘Drawn from Paradise: The Discovery, Art & Natural History of the Birds of Paradise’. Ching exhibits regularly in New Zealand at ARTIS Gallery. Examples of Ching’s portrait paintings are held in Te Papa Tongarewa, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and the Suter Gallery in Nelson.