Emily Valentine | Stanley Street Gallery

Emily Valentine

Feathers are my paint. Over the last fourteen years I have developed my own technique and style using feathers. The source of the feathers is vital to my work and utilises what is available locally. My work shows sympathy with the bird’s previous life and creates a new life form. The Dog Flu series (winged birdie dogs and now cats) has been well received and I will continue to make new work in this series.

I am now enjoying making feathered aeroplanes. With this work I wish to discuss how we as humans now colonise the skies. I continue to make jewellery and other works for the body. Attitudes to wearing and owning animals and 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 whenever 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 work is presently doing a tour of New Zealand in the “Off the Wall“ exhibition.

I was awarded the Cat Advocate prize for my work Catty Bird 2011 at the miniature sculpture show at Defiance gallery in Newtown NSW in December 2011.
My work is well received by viewer, as the work is direct, humorous and meticulous. Children are fascinated by it. Viewers respond passionately to my work.
I have always included photography as part of my practise. I have documented my own work throughout my career. Now this work has taken a new direction. I have created projects where I ask people to pose for me. My first “Hand Bagged” where I asked the sitter to wear a hand bag around their neck.
The second project, “Racism is Australia” is a quote from John Pilger which I painted on the fence at my studio. I ask friends and strangers to pose in front of it and publish the work on the blog. I feel this photographic work pulls me back to my artistic roots. I majored in Jewellery at Sydney College of the Arts, so the body is important to me. It is the jeweller’s canvas.




Emily Valentine Artist Statement and CV Feb 2020(PDF)