Spectra of Birds.
In Spectra of Birds abstract images of birds spotted in West Wollongong are squeezed or trapped into the rectilinear architecture of empty Tetra Paks. The resulting expressionist distortions – angular in shape as determined by the cartons – are half bird and half cultural object, suggesting the continual commodification of nature, a world gradually destroying itself, and the transformation of rubbish. In capitulating to the cartons’ open spouts, the birds embody the phantasmatic property of everyday materials replete with associative meanings of myth and consumerism. Two modes of identity – birds/cartons and art / consumer material – are sustained simultaneously in a single object.
From an art-historical perspective, the planes of colour recall the work of Color Field painter Ellsworth Kelly who attributes his minimal colour abstractions and the titles of his works to birdwatching as a young boy with his grandmother. Yet, in contrast to the restraint of formalist colour field painting, these birds might be said to return abstraction to its counterpart in nature, producing effects whereby the different permutations of colour and combinations of form embrace diversity, visual analogy and the aesthetic quality of these remarkable animals.
The category depends on the intersection of birds that are seen and are therefore made, but their squashed states also suggest a crisis – those endangered, betrayed or disappeared.
Birds seen in the Illawarra, NSW: welcome swallow, superb fairy-wren, crimson rosella, red-browed finch, green catbird, purple swamphen, sooty oystercatcher, New Holland honeyeater, great cormorant, satin bowerbird, eastern whipbird, Australian pelican, laughing kookaburra, rainbow lorikeet, spotted pardalote, magpie, eastern yellow robin, Bassian thrush, eastern rosella, cattle egret, white-faced heron (blue crane), crested tern, white-browed scrubwren, variegated fairy-wren, fan-tailed cuckoo, Lewin’s honeyeater, golden whistler, white-headed pigeon, brown cuckoo-dove, scarlet honeyeater, eastern spinebill, black-faced cuckoo-shrike, red-whiskered bulbul, pied cormorant, noisy miner, dollarbird, galah, scrub turkey, masked lapwing (plover) and tawny frogmouth.
Birds seen at Barren Grounds, NSW: eastern whipbird, pilot bird, yellow-tailed black cockatoo, brown thornbill, beautiful firetail, lyrebird, grey fantail, white-throated treecreeper, king parrot, eastern bristlebird, bowerbird (female) and rufous whistler.