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Australian art

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At home with the Locust People (Itchy feet)



Bonita Ely


17 Aug 1946 -


Since the early 1970s, Bonita Ely's work has explored cultural histories and human interaction with the natural world, focusing in particular on themes of environmental degradation. She produced 'At home with the Locust People (Itchy feet)' 1974-75 at a time when pollution and population were prominent issues. The central figures are mutant hybrids of human and locust anatomies. These vulgar creatures embrace precariously in a domestic setting, a gesture that conflates human behaviour with the 'gregarious phase' of locusts, in which they congregate into rapacious, mass-reproducing swarms with disastrous impacts on land fertility. Correspondingly, the view out the window beyond is bleak: a vast, unpopulated expanse which smoulders an ominous dirty-amber. The work is a cynical prediction of future environmental devastation, in which humans are both the victim and perpetrator.


Place where the work was made

New York New York United States of America



Materials used

oil and collage on canvas


140.3 x 184.6 x 5.1 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, red oil "Bonita Ely".
Dated u.r. corner verso on canvas, red oil "1974-75/ ...".


Rudy Komon Memorial Fund 2015


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Bonita Ely

Works in the collection



Where the work was made
New York

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Nancy Borlase., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Visions of a locust land to come', Sydney, 19 Feb 1976, page number unknown (illus.).

Janine Bourke, Field of vision. A decade of change: women's art in the seventies, 'Site specific: Bonita Ely's landscapes', pg. 92-98, Ringwood, 1990, 94 (illus.).

Gary Catalano, An intimate Australia: The landscape & recent Australian art, Sydney, 1985, 77-78. general reference to 'The Locust People' series

Meredith Rogers, Three statements on environment: Margaret Bell, Bonita Ely, Erica McGilchrist, Melbourne, 1976, n.pag.. general reference to 'The Locust People' series

Anne Stephen, Anything goes: art in Australia 1970-1980, 'A process of de-neutralising: a review of three Sydney exhibitions', pg. 62-67, Melbourne, 1984, 62-67. reprinted from Lip, no 1, 1977, pp 27-28; general reference to 'The Locust People'