Emily Valentine Bullock is an artist.
Emily Valentine Bullock image

Feathers are my paint. Over the last twelve years I have developed my own technique and style using feathers.

I create mythical beasts – winged dogs and lizards, and now aeroplanes. The planes moves the work in a new direction – combining the man-made form with the bird. Planes are colonising the skies. Birds no longer dominate our view of the heavens.

In my work I wish to discuss how attitudes to wearing birds parts have changed. Is this just because of fashion, or has society become more caring of animals? I wish to stimulate the viewer with the uncomfortable nature of the feather, to question our callousness treatment of animals and birds, and ask how we sub-consciously classify animals – pet or pest, valued or worthless, beautiful or plain and why.

The source of the feathers is vital to the work. In 1999 I made Road Kill, a pair of shoes using feathers from a road kill lorikeet and this lead to my continuing use of this source when ever I can. A driver’s right to use the road is a given. Animal and bird kill barely rates a mention. Road kill was the source of Galah Collie 2007 which was acquired by Northern Territory Art Gallery, NT Australia.

I have been trapping the registered pest, the indian mynah bird and using the feathers. With these, I made Mynah Collie 2007, a feathered dog, one of my dog flu series, and it was awarded a merit prize in the Norseweart, the New Zealand Contemporary Art Award. I have been using the mynah birds for my new Squadron Series (groups of small planes for the wall). This series compares the military invasion with the invasion of non-indigenous species.

Dead pets are also a source. The death of my own two budgies inspired me to make Budgerigar Brassiere, which won the Mac’s Bizarre Bra award at the WorldofWearableArt in 2002. This led me on to make work about the breast. Two bras were shown in the JOC (Jewellery Out of Context) exhibition which did a world tour.

Presently, new jewellery work (Deconstructed Budgie 2010) is showing in Excessory a touring exhibition of Australia. A solo exhibition of work I made during my residency Sargeant Gallery, Whanganui New Zealand will open on 27 November 2010.