Have you stopped, enjoyed, and observed the sky on a clear and bright summer’s day and been struck by a flock of birds and been astonished by their surprising lightness? Without seeming to make an effort, forward they glide; their flow is serene. Birds are part of our journey, even if we simply stay at home and hear them singing outside whilst they enjoy nature with their fellow feathered friends.
Image on left Tim Flach, Gouldian Finch, 2021
We see birds every day, and sometimes we observe them, we listen to them, enjoying a moment of serene beauty. Their majesty, their structure, their wings are amazing and fantastic; and also we can appreciate the diversity of each of the species.
Søren Solkær, Black Sun #2 European Starlings 2016
It may be lesser known but birds, are also known as avian dinosaurs, a group of vertebrate creatures that are bipedal (animals using only two legs for walking) that have a wing configuration, and have a toothless beak.
It is not for nothing that there is a popular pastime, a real hobby, even taken up full-time called birdwatching. We use the word birdwatching, but the technical term of course, is ornithological observation.
So fascinated by birds are we, that they have been forever part of our creative exploration. Find studies of birds in books, films, pop music and of course art. Interestingly birds are usually seen as beautiful, exotic and harmonious but of course we know they can also be seen as menacing and even evil.
Although, the ability to fly is probably the first characteristic that comes to mind when we talk about birds, not all species, although equipped with wings, can soar into flight.
Instead, there are birds that are not perhaps loved for their appearance, some who are mostly nocturnal or even solitary birds of prey with a menacing attitude, that may have a huge, wide head, binocular eyesight, binaural hearing and keen talons.
The famous film The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock from 1962, tells a story around some seemingly evil crows. Set in California, a young woman and a lawyer begin a game of seduction.
After an initial accidental meeting, to see him again, she devises a plan and intends to personally deliver a pair of birds known as “the inseparables” (love birds) to him.
A seagull attacks her as she walks towards his home, an ominous sight. Strange occurrences relating to bird behaviour may soon signal an impending calamity. By the end of the film the birds have attacked the leading lady and many townsfolk. These birds as certainly not the pretty creatures we usually admire but the films does give an interesting facet to these creatures.
In other areas, for example art, there is a famous painting by Claude Monet, entitled “the Magpie” (The magpie on a fence in a winter landscape gives it the title) or in music what about the famous track from Bob Marley, “Three Little Birds” with him performing about these creatures giving a message of hope and singing at sunrise :
“Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright“.
A book, was recently created about many of these, our feathered friends, by Gemma Padley. Her book, Bird brings together the world’s greatest modern bird photography, from wild parrots in the Tokyo’s streets to prize pigeons in the streets of New York.
Joseph Mcglennon Eclectus
This book highlights the greatest 21st-century bird photography from around the world, challenging us to see these fascinating flying animals in all their complexity, beauty, and close up, for the first time. This elegantly produced book is designed to be a considerate and valuable present for bird lovers and photography enthusiasts alike. Or even a small book of pure joy that gives us a smile as we page through each obviously different characteristic of each darling on show.
Luke Stephenson, An Incolplete Dictionary of Show
Julia Tatarchenko, Anthropoides paradisea Blue Crane 2017
Also, if you are a bird lover or you are just interested in discovering somethings about, Alex Katz, an American artist known for his large-scale paintings, born on July 24, 1927 in New York City,, then a trip to his new exhibition may well be called for. He is an American figurative artist associated with the pop art movement and is best known for his paintings, sculptures and prints; and with this exhibition named Birds he will be showing a body of fabulous works at the Timothy Taylor gallery.
Katz uses as little marks as possible to show us the birds, putting the human mind to the test to fill in the blanks with the ease of a master painter. The birds hop around on small feet drawn in quick lines, leaning against a nonexistent ground to nibble or stare up at the sky.
Alex Katz, Birds Timothy Taylor London
Also over at The Paradise Row Gallery find the partnership with Outside In, in a show called Taking Flight’, an exhibition that breaks the curatorial mould.
Outside In, is a well-established national organisation whose mission is to give a platform to artists who face severe barriers to the art world owing to illness, disability, social condition, or solitude. The work of this association is divided into three categories: artist development, exhibitions, and training.
‘Taking Flight’ brings together the work of nine artists from Outside In. For example, one artist Corinne, chose artworks to depict exotic, typically winged animals living in enchanted locations she’d like to explore.
On the other hand, Peter Cutts, one of the six award winners from Outside In 2007, transports us in his world, in a wonderful use of line, a great sense of fun and creativity as well as a love for colour, in his piece above ‘The Wonderful World of Flying Creatures’.
Peter Cutts, Outside In
“All Creatures Great and Small” by Chaz Waldren, depicts a wonderful sky packed with birds within every inch. The illustrations of Laila Kassab appear to be a safe refuge for birds to drink and fish to swim in.
Laila Kassab, Cruelty but Hope
And finally what about an exploration of pure feathers? Artists bring their creativity also in holy places such as a church where a young Australian artist, named Cj Hendry decided to transform a defunct East London Church into a giant “snow globe” with cascading petals from birds.
“I’ve never really done a “normal” art exhibition in a normal space” she said.
Ten tones of recyclable white petal confetti will cascade from the ceiling through the nave of the building, blanketing the interiors below.
“Architecture and space really inform how people feel – I think this exhibition is so interesting because the space is so grand and so elegant, and it’s just so ephemeral “, she said.
Without even realising it, this amazing world of birds will catch your imagination with their majesty, their beauty and delicacy. If you had not stopped before to notice their wonderment in the natural world, may be see them in a gallery or a book for a different approach.
If you would like to know more about the Alex Kart’s birds exposition , then click here.
If you would like to know more about the Taking Flight exposition , then click here.
To discover more about Gemma Padley’s book , then click here.
To discover more about Cj Hendry church’s exhibition, then click here
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