Exhibitions: "Ornithurae Vol. 1" Purdy Hicks London 2018
Leila Jeffreys striking portraits of the pigeons and doves of New Guinea and Australia form part of Leila Jeffreys’ first USA exhibition, Ornithurae Volume 1, at Olsen Gruin, New York, October - 12 November 2017. Opened by Brooke Shields.
Exhibition Essay: Ornithurae 2018
Leila Jeffreys (born Papua New Guinea) was raised in Perth, Australia but spent much of her childhood travelling. She grew up surrounded by wildlife and forest both in Australia and abroad, sparking her interest in the natural world. She studied photography at Murdoch and Curtin Universities in Perth, continuing her studies in Sydney at Ultimo TAFE. Jeffreys began documenting birds by way of photographic portraiture in 2008 when she realised that because of their small size the beauty in the commonplace was being missed.
Her most recent series, Ornithurae (birds' tails in Greek) comprises portraits of pigeons, each of startling grace and elegance: challenging the often unfavourable appreciation of this particular bird.
Jeffreys continues to reconstruct our perceptions of birds by pairing up two different bird families: the universally loved cockatoo with the columbine (pigeons and doves). While the cockatoo is viewed as an iconic Australasian bird, the pigeon is almost universally ignored.
Australian author and naturalist Tim Low writes in his essay Reconsider the Pigeon, 'We should not take pigeons for granted. To pigeonhole them as urban scroungers does them an injustice. Australian photographer Leila Jeffreys has taken it on herself to show them as they truly are, as beings with the power to surprise. Everything alive is essentially a mystery, and pigeons, with their extraordinary mental and physical powers, are more mysterious than most. They were domesticated thousands of years ago ago, long before chickens or ducks, which makes them the bird on earth to which we have the longest close relationship. Pigeons matter'.
Each of her images reveals the subtle details of the animals' robes, while displaying a phenomenal spectrum of colours and nuances the human eye can only appreciate within the stillness of her photographs.
Courtesy Purdy Hicks Gallery, London