Born in 1939 in Wellington, Raymond Ching is renowned as New Zealand’s leading contemporary bird and figure painter. Ching has been called an “artist’s artist” and among bird painters is a draughtsman without peer. A renowned artist of life-like portraits in the wildlife genre, he paints obsessively to push the boundaries of his artistic practice.
Ching began exhibiting his bird paintings in the 1960s. His first exhibition Thirty Birds, in 1968 was a sell out, attracting the attention of Sir William Collins of Collins Publishing. Sir William, a keen ornithologist, invited Ching to the United Kingdom to produce a book of his bird paintings. However, upon his arrival Ching came into contact with the publishers of The Reader’s Digest who, along with Collins Publishing, intended to produce a major book on the birds of Britain. Ching was commissioned to paint 230 full-colour studies. The Reader’s Digest Book of British Birds, published in 1969, became the world’s most successful and biggest selling ornithological book. This enthusiastic reception led Ching to produce a series of natural history books. Eleven books documenting his paintings have been published including: ‘The Bird Paintings‘, 1978, ‘Studies & Sketches of a Bird Painter‘, 1981,’The Art of Raymond Ching‘, 1981, ‘Wild Portraits‘, 1988, and ‘Ray Harris Ching’.
In 2010 Ray Ching ventured into the genre of graphic novels with the first publication by David Bateman Publishing, ‘Aesop’s Kiwi Fables-Painting’ by Ray Ching. This publication accompanied his first of two exhibitions at ARTIS Gallery (2010, and 2012). In 2014, ‘Dawn Chorus‘ was published (also by Bateman Publishing) and accompanied another two further exhibitions at ARTIS in 2014 and 2015. Ching’s most recent book ‘Aesop’s Outback Fables’ was published in 2018 by Artis Gallery.
In 2012 Ching was commissioned by Sir David Attenborough to paint a large oil work which was used to illustrate the cover of Attenborough’s latest book, Drawn from Paradise. For Attenborough Ray Ching completed a 1.8 x 2.4 m oil on canvas titled, ‘End to the Squandering of Beauty’ (Entry of the Birds of Paradise into Western Thought).
Living in Wiltshire, UK, Ching continues to paint birds and animals, as well as remarkably life-like portraits. Working primarily in oils and watercolours, Ching’s works are incredibly detailed with an almost photographic quality. Merging realism with fictional compositions, Ching slowly builds up his paintings layer upon layer, often leaving the under drawing peeking through the transparent paint.
Ching exhibits regularly in New Zealand and around the world. Venues include the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin; Brighton Art Gallery and Museum, England; the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; and in Johannesburg. His paintings are held in numerous private and public collections, such as those of the National Museum of Wildlife Art in the USA, and portraits from his exhibition A True Story are held in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.