Birds are sensitive indicators to the effects of environmental change which makes them useful for identifying ecosystem health. I have been painting bird nests sitting on ceramic plates to talk about the way we are consuming our planet. Working from historical ceramic designs I alter the original composition to incorporate the narratives and highlight the extinction of certain bird species.



Our disposable consumer culture is contributing to our enviromental worries and whilst researching ceramics I came across the Japanese art of Kintsugi that celebrates repair over replace. Mending broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold or silver to highlight the breakage treats the breakage and repair as part of the object's history and dignity, and is viewed as beautiful in look and theory. Breaking a plate and glueing it back together gives me an accidental ready made drawing of broken lines to work around and within. I can then represent this object through the luscious application of paint, color and pattern in the readymade shapes, blurring the lines between realism and abstraction, Fine Art and Applied Art.



Recently I have been painting landscapes reflected in disco mirror balls to call upon our fracturing landscape whilst we continue to “Party on” as our planets ecosystem slowly unravels because of our daily lives.







 

I first started looking at Bird Nests and became fascinated with the abstract shapes found in the structure and form of each nest and further saw there was a simpatico between the build of my paint and the physical structure of the bird nests.  I have been using the found nests to imagine what it felt like to build them through my brushstrokes and use the structures as source material to direct and inspire my painting.



I began to look at the history of Avian art and was drawn to Ornithological artists such as Audubon and stumbled across the book "Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio" by Genevieve Jones and her family.  The story behind the printing of the book reads like a great novel involving the entire family.  The son would gather the nests, the daughter would illustrate them until she died of Typhoid fever (half way through the book) and the mother continued the illustrations after her daughter's death with the father publishing the finished work.  In the biography it mentions the daughter Genevieve, "a woman of a nervous disposition", was also a ceramic artist.  I began drawing parallels between human crafts and the architecture of bird nests and this lead me to investigate ceramic painting and Transferware from the same period. .



We are and have always been fascinated with the natural world whether for greater knowledge or as an object of beauty to admire, possess or study and alter.  I have been working these stories from the past and present ornithological pursuits and tales of accidental species extinction into the plate patterns in which the nests sit.

I was investigating different bird species and bird breeding which led me to the understanding that the diet of a house finch is high in Carotenoids which gives them their bright red coloring. At the same time I started reading about the advances of genomic technology and the efforts molecular biologists are working on with the idea of reviving endangered species and the possibility to bring back to life extinct species. The Flagship project that is being studied is to bring back the extinct Passenger Pigeon by using the DNA of preserved specimens found in natural history museums.  The DNA fragments from the extinct species' skin samples will be engineered with it's closest living species, the band-tailed pigeon to eventually recreate as close as possible the extinct bird .



This began my speculation on how art could inspire this new strain of nature and what these advances in science could do to engineer an existing bird species with the DNA of a painting to create a beautiful new subspecies. I have created these new breeds by thinking about how a certain birds' patterning and color could match the DNA of a painting. The birds are painted on reference books I found in used bookstores and online that have helped in researching this work, once you remove the dust jacket a ready made canvas exists.





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