Thursday, July 17, 2014

Budgerigar murmurations on linen セキセイインコの群が舞い上がった。

At what point does a flock of birds cease to be beautiful and start to become overwhelming or even grotesque? Perhaps when they number in the hundreds of thousands and form a moving, evolving mass that moves across the sky in unbelievable formations.

This was something I wanted to explore in my new artwork "Murmurations".

凄いでしょう!?スコットランドでのムクドリ大群。I mean, seriously?! Murmuration of Starlings in Scotland. More images from BBC here

A few posts back, I shared with you a little about these flock formations called murmurations. The most well known of these dancing, swarming, phenomena are those created by starlings in various parts of Europe. But in true Aussie style, not to be outdone by the old mother country, we have our own version, and I would say its a whole lot more amazing.

Budgerigar murmurations!

オーストラリアの中心に見えるセキセイインコ大群。Budgie Murmurations in Central Australia by Steven Pearce
綺麗でしょう!Budgie Murmurations in Central Australia by Steven Pearce

Budgerigars which are well known around the world as caged pet birds are actually Australian native parrots and remained that way up until the early 1800's. In the wild, they are intelligent little creatures with vividly coloured green and yellow plumage and slender bodies. They form these giant flocks in order to better locate food and water and to make things difficult for predators like falcons.

Budgie Murmurations in Central Australia by Steven Pearce
I wanted to depict budgerigars in these formations, wild and on mass; the complete opposite image of the fluffy, variously coloured, singular budgerigar pets we are now so used to.

From Canberra Times article: Wild budgerigar at left versus modern caged budgie. It's like putting a little flyweight next to an Arnie... 左は野生のインコ、右は慣れて来た飼い鳥のセキセイインコ。普通のサラリーマンと力士を並べてみているって感じ。
So here is my take on Budgerigar murmurations:

Murmurations 2014. 240 x 180cm

budgies in flight
Whilst this work is not as big as I might have liked (about 180cm tall x230cm wide), it's still of a scale that envelopes you or overwhelms you, I hope. もっと大きく作ってもよっかった気がしますが、圧迫感はあるでしょうか。

I made this work using katazome and over-dyeing. The idea of 'en masse' and repetition seemed best done in a technique that is repeatable. I cut about 20 small budgerigar stencils, some singular birds, some a set of two or three birds. I made various sizes, ranging from small parrots to be used in the "distance" and larger ones to create the effect of a "foreground".
型紙へトレースTracing Budgies
onto Katagami stencil paper


Cutting budgie stencils: one of
 the fun parts!
Because I planned to use these katagami stencils over and over again, I decided to strengthen them with a layer of fine synthetic mesh called "sha". You attach this to the front of the stencil with a thinned down lacquer. Usually, this is used to print paste with the mesh-attached side facing up. I wasn't sure if I could flip the stencils and use them to print with the mesh on the fabric side but I was able to just fine. This meant I could use the same stencils for flying budgerigars facing in both directions. (Less stencil cutting!)

Hard to see but this stencil has a fine mesh attached to the front surface with a black lacquer. stinky stuff but it makes the stencil much stronger and more versatile. 紗を張った型紙。張る時に使うカシュ―のにおいがきついですが、紗がついていると使いやすいし、丈夫になります。
Here's a few more low quality photos (sorry!) of the work in the making! 制作中の写真を何枚か、

in the middle of pasting the budgies using various stencils. You can see the blue aobana ink on the fabric which i was using as a rough guide and later dissolved in water. 糊置きの途中。生地に見える青い線はまたあとで水で消える「青花」です。
explaining my work to some wonderful Australian ladies who happened to be visiting Kyoto and Nara on a textiles tour. Good fun! 京都と奈良へテキスタイルを見に来ていたオーストラリア人のおばさん組に自分の作品を説明最中。楽しかった! 

first dyeing finished, paste still on fabric. 1回目の色差しを終わった時。糊はまだ生地に置いている。
first dyeing finished, steamed and paste removed 一回目の色差しが終わって、蒸して、糊と余った染料を見ずで落とした。

This work will be in display for the first time at a 3-person group exhibition starting next week. It will be at a gallery in downtown Kyoto, Gallery Maronie, which is quite well known for shows of contemporary art and craft. More details here. Although it's very hot in Kyoto at the moment, here's hoping we get a pretty good turnout. Perhaps people will flock to see it?!? Hardy har. And that terrible Dad joke I'll take my leave to go and finish the hand sewing on the other piece I will exhibit next week!

「外から来た人たち」ギャラリーマロニエ2014年7月22-27日 京都 3 person group show at Gallery Maronie in Kyoto starting next Monday (July 22nd) and running until Sunday July 27th. 

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