Gisborne artist brings birds to life

William Ritchie's award winning black swan

By Jessica Micallef

Gisborne artist William Ritchie draws inspiration from the world around him.

He often combines multiple ideas or multiple images to make one painting that stands out.

Now, a black swan he saw swimming in Port Fairy two years ago has won Ritchie an award for excellence at this year’s The Holmes Prize for Realistic Australian Bird Art competition held in Queensland last month.

Ritchie said he was thrilled with his achievement at the competition.

“I was very pleasantly surprised to see it come through as an award for excellence,” he said.

“It’s quite a big event. It’s the only one of its kind in the country.”

Ritchie said the award-winning painting had a “sunset feel to it”.

“There’s lots of water movement. It was depicting it [the swan] just as it turned to the light so it’s a black bird with a lot of colour on it, so oranges, browns, light reds and in the shadows you get all the blues. You get quite a nice contrast with a sky blue reflection on the water.”

Ritchie said he often drew inspiration from his surroundings.

“I spend a lot of time walking around in the bush, down the creek. Everything I’ve done with my artwork has come from something I have seen, something that has appealed to me in some way, shape or form.

“I take a lot of photos of standard things like a log or a tree that has nice lighting. Ripples on water are great as well.”

Gisborne artist William Ritchie. Photo: Damjan Janevski.