Skip to content

Collection

All

Search

Australian art

View More:


Title

The birds of paradise

1945


Artist

Eric Thake

Australia

08 Jun 1904 - 03 Nov 1982


About

Eric Thake served as an official War Artist from 1944-46 in Australia and the Pacific, when for the first time he was able to work full time as an artist. He faced few restrictions in his choice of subject in his drawings, watercolours and paintings of everyday life and military operations.

Thake's satirical approach to his subject is revealed in the title – the 'birds of paradise' are aircraft buzzing the disintegrating remains of a wrecked aeroplane beached on a tropical shore. The surrealist sensibility of his imagery is underscored by an emphasis on an apparently weightless metal propeller, suspended in the centre of the composition and counterpointed against an idyllic landscape. This disjunction can be seen as a comment upon the chaos and devastation of warfare, whilst the inherent strangeness of the wreck provides a metaphor of simultaneous human creativity and destructiveness.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2004


Details


Date

1945


Media category

Watercolour


Materials used

pencil, gouache


Dimensions

38.1 x 47.4 cm sheet


Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, "Eric Thake 1945".


Credit

Purchased 1947


Location

Not on display


Accession number

7835


Artist information

Eric Thake

Works in the collection

128


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 4 publications

Bibliography


Hendrik Kolenberg, Australian watercolours 1880s to 1990s, Sydney, 1995, 71 (colour illus.), 121. cat.no. 60

Hendrik Kolenberg, Twentieth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1989. cat.no. 76

Hal Missingham, Contemporary Australian painting from the National Collection, Sydney, circa 1946, 15. cat.no. 38

Martin Terry, Arts National, 'The Australian landscape tradition in watercolour', pg. 22-27, Hamilton, Nov 1985-Dec 1985, 25 (colour illus.), 26.