Birds are engrained in my psyche. After watching them closely for 50-odd years, I have an innateknowledge of how a bird moves and looks in real life and genuine empathy for each creature.
My lifelong obsession with natural history began in early childhood when I examined everything from ants to Red-backed spiders in my suburban backyard in South Australia and rock pools at the local beach.
My natural inquisitiveness, inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s stories of wildlife from across the globe, led to youthful adventures into the ‘Aussie bush’ and outback. Simultaneously, I developed my love of drawing into more studious efforts of recording birds on paper and canvas. When I arrived at university to studyArt & Design, I was consumed with making and selling intricate bird illustrations.
Over the years, my love for and knowledge of birds has deepened, along with my understanding of their vital relationship with their natural environment. I have spent years studying birds in their natural habitats in Australia and worldwide. Looking at and understanding detailed facets of their lives, the way they move, their calls, their anatomy, their nests, and even their relationship to the seasons has helped inform and provide a depth of knowledge that is foundational to my work.
My artistic focus shifted to photography a few decades ago and has evolved into the exacting challengeof crafting complex avian artworks – some of which are time-consuming recreations of extinct species. Further inspiration for this collection stems from the scientists and writers of the 16th and 17th centuries. They systematically studied and catalogue plants and animals worldwide and communicated their beauty in printed media. These pioneers were obsessed with faithfully describing and illustrating each species they studied to understand its place in the world better.
Making these images involves taking and combining hundreds of individual photographs to create a single scene, in which I remove the bird from its usual context and recast it in a romantic, idealised style that harkens to the historic artists.
Plants are an integral element in my images, and I use botany asa tool to bring awareness of the fragility of birds when facing habitat loss.
This “illusion of reality” is created so that the viewer is forced to stop, slow down and have a connection with the subject.
By isolating the subject into this new context, I am celebrating each species’ character and beauty to provide a rare and detailed glimpse of these delicate creatures.