Andrews art is for the birds
Tane Andrews with his finch aviary at Venn Gallery.

The frenetic energy of animals urgently pursuing their short lives has left a lasting mark on Tane Andrews, who has "collaborated" with a family of birds in his latest exhibition.

The son of a botanic illustrator, Andrews has marked out his own territory in several nature- inspired exhibitions of his delicate and detailed drawings.

His latest show The Collector, part of the City of Perth Winter Arts Season, takes things further with a focus on the habits of the native Australian white zebra finch, eight of whom have taken up residence in an aviary at Venn Gallery.

The aviary is complemented by glass displays of nests the birds have created with exotic materials supplied by Andrews, including gold leaf, white fox fur, horse hair, raw silk, pearls, butterfly wings, twigs and shredded pieces of his own drawings.

"One of the criticisms of my work has been that I have just done things that are beautiful and pretty," Andrews says. "It is not very groundbreaking to be drawing flowers at the end of the day but I was thinking about this sense of beauty on a larger inter-species scale.

"I thought if I find something beautiful then maybe these finches will as well. I wanted to see what kind of materials they would take and to see whether the end product was as considered and perhaps as beautiful as the drawings I was doing."

Just as blooming flowers reflect the final reproductive flourish of life before death and decay, the avian urgency constructs objects we can contemplate in the gallery, Andrews says.

"I'm coming at it as this beautiful ornate sculpture but for the birds it is purely utilitarian for one purpose, which is to reproduce."

Examples of animals making art range from zoo therapy classes for chimps and elephants to such experimental work as Tomas Saraceno's spiderweb art, Geoffrey Mann's moth flight-path sculptures and Bjorn Braun's zebra finch nests. Last year, a work by WA artist Kirsten Hudson of fungus growing on a mat of decomposing ants was a finalist in the Fremantle Print Awards.

Andrews says his exploration in this area began while studying art at Curtin University in 2007.

"I had an aviary set up but I didn't have the time span at uni and this needed to be a six-month-to-a-year project," he says.

This is Andrews' sixth solo show in a versatile career, which also includes fashion design with the label Of Cabbages and Kings, in partnership with London- based colleague Kira Goodey.

The subject of a recent ABC short documentary about art representing fragility in nature, Andrews also is busy working towards group exhibitions at Perth's Moana Project Space and the Mundaring Arts Centre, and has won a sought-after studio residency at leading Sydney arts institution, Artspace.

Proficient with pen and ink, paint, textiles, glass, lightbox and kinetic sculpture, Andrews is looking to stretch himself by continuing to work with leading WA artist Philip Gamblen, who is renowned for his electronic, mechanical and robotic art.

"I don't have the expertise in that field and I need him to help me to collaborate," Andrews says. "I am at his mercy."

Tane Andrews: The Collector is at Venn Gallery, Queen Street, Perth, until June 27.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

More from The West