Humankind has always had a complicated relationship with nature, characterized by awe and admiration, tension and destruction. The human desire to be surrounded by images of nature has been replicated in household ornamentation throughout civilizations. The walls of the imperial villas of Ancient Rome were adorned with frescoes detailing rich flora and fauna. During the Renaissance, Rafael reinvented this ancient style through his grotesques, which depict birds, fruits, and plant life. Carefully crafted representations of the natural world were re- imagined yet again in 19th century Britain when William Morris began producing richly ornamented wallpaper featuring wild birds and vegetation.
Birds of a Feather offers a new perspective on this tradition with portraits of live birds - from the common Parakeet to the exotic Hyacinth Macaw to the stoic Gyrfalcon - photographed against complementary historical and reproduction wallpaper and fabric from the Victorian Era. As the cult of colonization and exploration spread during the Victorian Era in Europe, it yielded brutal discovery and domination of faraway places, creatures and cultures. As these discoveries made their way back to Europe, aviary collection and display as well as a general fascination with the natural world and its exotic inhabitants rose in fashion. This series references that desire to possess the beautiful, wild and exotic, a possession that permanently changes the object of desire through its dislocation. The backgrounds in this series are selected to induce beauty, optical illusion and visual blending, the birds appear to belong when in reality it is a far cry from their natural environment. The birds mirror the careful, self-conscious poses of humans in an unexpected way. Posed, the birds anthropomorphize as we attribute human emotion and intent to their expressions.
From birds to bugs, this series is a continued exploration of the cycle of inspiration as well as the tension between nature and mankind. Preserved insects and butterflies are placed against correlating William Morris wallpaper from the Victoria and Albert Collection, creating visual blending and optical illusion.