Prey - exhibited 2014

Leila Jeffreys 'Prey' series was exhibited at Purdy Hicks London and Olsen Gallery Sydney. Each large scale photograph features a portrait of bird of prey

'Ivy' Barn owl

'Ivy' Barn owl


Photograph on archival fibre based cotton rag paper
112 x 89 cm, 44 x 35 inch (standard)

'Ivy’ Barn owl 2014 ©Leila Jeffreys

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The Barn Owl is such an iconic feature of children’s books, that actually meeting Ivy in person took my life-long association with these graceful birds to a new level. I immediately understood why owls are depicted in mythical fables – her white feathers are so iridescent she seems to glow, her velvety wings look and feel like a handwoven silk carpet, and her soft downy feathers on her tummy and legs are buttery soft.

During our photo session, I was privileged to have Ivy fly around me. Owls have evolved to be silent in flight, and it was incredible to watch her gaze up, decide where she wanted to go, and then – as if levitating – silently fly onto my light stand. To be in a room as a bird flies in silence is an experience I will never forget.

Owls have evolved fine serrated edges on their wing feathers that distributes the air and reduces the sound made by birds in flight. The soft downy feathers on an owl’s body and legs also aids in the reduction of sound.

The Barn Owl is the most widely-distributed owl in the world with approximately 28 sub-species. Like so many of the owls I have met during this project, Ivy does not ‘hoot’ – instead her call is more of a screech.