Cayley and Son charts the lives and works of Australian bird artists Neville Henry Cayley (1854-1903) and his son Neville William (1886-1950). Peripatetic, often impecunious, and with a reputation for hard drinking, Neville Henry was nevertheless a highly talented artist, whose dreams of publishing a ”big bird book' – a comprehensive publication on Australian birds – never came to fruition. His son Neville William was also a keen artist. 'Buoyant’ in personality, sometimes outspoken and argumentative, he was a pioneer of the surf lifesaving movement before turning his attention to the painting of birds. Taking a more scientific approach than his father, he was to complete the classic field guide known to bird enthusiasts throughout Australia: What Bird ls That?.
From the depictions of gamebirds in Neville Henry’s work, to his son’s focus on conservation and education, the history of the two men is also a social history of Australia, and their work can be read as a barometer of changing attitudes to wildlife and its conservation.
Cayley and Son features a biographical essay on each of the two men, followed by a portfolio of their paintings. With over 100 colour plates of works from the collections of the National Library of Australia, it is a book for art- and bird-lovers alike.
Penny Olsen is a research scientist and natural history writer. Based at the Australian National University in Canberra, she is the author of numerous publications including Glimpses of Paradise: The Quest for the Beautiful Parrakeet (2007), A Brush with Birds: Bird Art in the National Library of Australia (2008) and Upside Down World: Early European Impressions of Australia's Curious Animals (2010).