A character inspired look at birds & why we continue to associate so closely with them.

Feb 6th - 13th 2008. Nov - Dec 2008
The Coach House Gallery, & Mersey Bio Duke St, Liverpool

Like many people, birds have fascinated me since childhood. They seem to touch us in many indefinable ways; they arouse our admiration, encourage contemplation and inspire our affections and because of this they are often the subjects of art. With this collection I wanted to separate myself from the more technically proficient work which sometimes suffers from a photographic realism that often destroys some of their beauty or at least their personality. I have often watched birds and I have some knowledge of their behavior, as with all things, when you spend time with something you engage in some kind of relationship with it. With this in mind, I tried to get a deeper sense of the birds, to use the painting as a whole, its colours and forms to express the particular birds’ character.

With some species humans have enjoyed lengthy, deep connections. Our history with crows for example stretches back thousands of years. They have entered our cultural blood streams and to an unquantifiable degree we have co-evolved with them, this is at the heart of how I see this work. Although art sometimes expresses our deep association with birds, it is important to understand the shear aesthetic connection we enjoy with them. Sometimes, I have found I am searching to express something indefinable, deep within, something real and positive, perhaps it is peace. When expressing that which is disturbing, hurtful or involves some kind of mental anguish, then our imagination, abstraction and symbolism act freely as a way to understand or even heal our thoughts. When expressing stability or contentment or peace, often it is the colours and shapes we see placed together all around us in the natural world that expresses it best.

Even the more complex associations with birds exist most profoundly by the observations of the beauty of their shear existence. Birds for example are often used as symbols that help us understand and move across boundaries between the familiar and the unknown.
To watch the Fulmar gliding effortlessly through the dark inhuman space of an Atlantic storm is, as Peter Matthieson observes, 'to risk unnamable intuitions of moral solitude and transience, one's own swift passage toward the void'.

To me, birds represent our achievements, our survival and a peace which potentially exists within us all. Our perceptions of their beauty are a reminder of our connections to nature. They give a sense of time and place which most importantly helps us feel ‘in the world’. There are those that like to shoo them and there are those who like to shoot them, but the clever ones amongst us soon become aware that birds are one of those things, whose existence helps us with our own condition. So we just watch and listen and soon our thoughts concern themselves with what is outside our minds, and this is a good place.

Within the exhibition, I also included passages from various books of some particularly interesting stories and information of human’s life with birds. You can see all the paintings and read the passages by following the link below.

BIRDS IN THE PARK (passages)

Some wonderfully interesting passages for bird lovers and images of all the art work at the exhibit.

Back to Joel Bird Gallery

Art as representational aesthetics. The forms of nature and the language of humankind.


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