Feather and Brush

Feather and Brush

A History of Australian Bird Art

Penny Olsen


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Feather and Brush traces the history of bird art in Australia – from the simple engravings illustrating accounts of the earliest European voyages of discovery to the diversity of artwork available today. It explores the early European approach, in which naval draughtsmen, officers, convicts, settlers, naturalists, artists and scientists alike contributed both to the art and the science of ornithology, through to a wealth of contemporary artists who feature birds in their works.

This book contains more than 400 images, representing the work of 158 artists; some well-known, others published for the first time. The illustrations have been selected for their interest, whether ornithological, historical or artistic. They range from classical to quirky, decorative to functional, monumental to intimate. Together they demonstrate the rich history of Australian bird art, as it evolved in Europe and Australia, and continues today, along with the trends and technologies of the times.

This second edition includes new and revised chapters, and features about 200 new artworks, including some by Indigenous artists.

Cultural sensitivity
Readers are warned that there may be words, descriptions and terms used or referenced in this book that are culturally sensitive. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this book contains images and names of deceased persons.


Penny Olsen:
Penny Olsen is an award-winning research scientist and author. She has written more than 30 books on Australia's natural history and its practitioners. Feather and Brush developed from her belief that Australia has a fascinating ornithological history, which is incomplete without full recognition of the contributions of artists and illustrators.