hand-painted digital collage
113 x 83 cm (framed dimensions)
edition of 8 + 2AP
Superb Lyrebird, Menura novaehollandiae from David Collins 1756-1810: An account of the English colony in New South Wales: with remarks on the dispositions, customs, manners, &c. of the native inhabitants of that country. To which are added, some particulars of New Zealand / compiled, by permission, from the MSS. of Lieutenant-Governor King by David Collins, London, Printed for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, 1798-1802.
Certain birds captured the imagination of Europeans from the moment of their arrival. With its impressive plumage and remarkable knack for mimicry, it is far from difficult to see why the Superb lyrebird, Menura novaehollandiae was a popular choice. English settler David Collins’ 1798 account of the New South Wales colony included an early description accompanied by a beautiful engraving. An illustration of a lyrebird later adorned the cover of Gould’s Birds of Australia.
Ross has figuratively high-jacked the Lyrebird motif, and its accompanying symbolism, depicting as it does, an early Australian identity. Ross plays with the notion of how frequently the bird has been copied and copied and copied across books, coins and the fine and decorative arts. Popular the Lyrebird image is. With this Lyrebird representing many native birds, Ross ponders our devotion to land clearance and considers the possibility that one day we may all be left only with the copies of the copies of our Indigenous fauna. Ross also riffs on the name of the bird itself, the Liar Bird, inferring the lies embedded in our National history and symbolised in this beheaded specimen.