birds

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Design History

Historical Adobe Pigeon Towers Located Near Riyadh Captured in Photographs by Rich Hawkins

February 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Rich Hawkins, licensed for use

In modern city life, pigeons are often a nuisance to be stepped around or shooed away. But for ancient civilizations, the birds filled a necessary position, prompting communities to build masses of adobe dovecotes, or pigeon towers. Surrounded by an expansive desert with little vegetation, the historical dovecotes pictured above are located just south of Riyadh. Saudi Arabia-based photographer Rich Hawkins recently captured the fourteen towers, saying they’re the first he’s seen in the Middle Eastern country, most often spotting them in Iran, Egypt, and Qatar, where they have a lengthy history dating back to the 13th century.

Dotted with wooden pegs and hundreds of holes, the towers provided shelter and breeding areas for the birds to nest and raise their young in, which at times could amount to eight babies a year per bird, the Pigeon Control Resource Center says. While the structures throughout Europe often housed the birds as a food source, they were used instead throughout the Middle East to provide a place to harvest pigeon guano, or manure.

A lengthy piece from Aramco World detailing dovecote history throughout the region says the tower walls often were slanted to allow the droppings to amass on the central ground area, making it easier to collect. Pigeon guano is high in phosphorus and nitrogen, which is perfect for fertilizing vegetation. It also could be used to make gunpowder when combined with ash, lime, and soil or for leather tanning when mixed with water to create an ammonia substance.

As Hawkins’ photographs show, spray-painted markings and refuse mar the abandoned towers today, although the pigeons don’t seem to mind. “I was able to stay and watch the sun set as wild doves flew back and forth to their nests within the towers,” Hawkins writes on Instagram. For another look at ancient architecture that’s no longer in use, check out the stepwells of India.

 

 



Craft

Intricate Landscapes and Animals Cut From Single Sheet of Paper by Pippa Dyrlaga

February 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

“This Fragile World,” (2019), hand cut paper and acrylic paint, about 11 x 11 inches. All images © Pippa Dyrlaga

For Pippa Dyrlaga, one piece of paper holds a lot of possibility. The Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire-based artist cuts each one of her delicate creations from a single sheet. Her intricate designs turn a blank page into a plant-filled landscape or a robot tending to a garden. Dyrlaga begins by sketching each piece in reverse, before cutting sections out. Then she flips it over to unveil the finished work or to paint details onto the piece.

Whereas her previous work often utilized a single white sheet, the artist now is working more with color, painting shades of blues, golds, and black, which helps to distinguish one group of plants or mosses from the next in her lush landscapes. She also has been inspired by Greek mythology and lore, describing “Psychopomp” (shown below) as “a spirit or deity, often depicted in animal form, which guide people into the afterlife,” on her site. “The piece is split into two, night and day, life and death. The daytime is represents life and growth, organic patterns and plants. The second half with nocturnal animals and abstract patterns, representing the more abstract idea of what comes ‘after.'”

Head to Dyrlaga’s Instagram for more of her intricate creations, and see which are available for purchase in her shop.

“Torn #3” (2019), torn and hand cut paper, painted with acrylic, about 20 x 10 centimeters

Left: “Arber” (2020), hand painted and cut Japanese 36 gsm washi paper. Right: “Garden Spirit” (2019), hand painted and cut Japanese 36 gsm washi paper

(2018), hand drawn and hand cut Awagami Kozo Natural Select paper 46 gsm, about 23 x 25 centimeters

Left: “Torn #1” (2019), hand cut paper. Right: “Torn #2” (2019), hand drawn and cut paper

“Bright” (2019), hand cut from Awagami Factory 36 gsm paper and painted with acrylic paint

Left: “Psychopomp,” hand drawn and hand cut paper, 80 x 40 centimeters. Right: “Bennu,” hand cut 32 gsm gampi washi paper, with hand painted gold acrylic

‘While the World is Asleep” (2018), hand drawn and hand cut paper, about 42 x 28 centimeters

 

 



Photography

Seagulls and Pigeons Photobomb Shots of Rome by Photographer Skander Khlif 

February 2, 2020

Andrew LaSane

All images © Skander Khlif, used with permission

Munich-based photographer Skander Khlif documents public spaces with the Shakespearian mentality that life is theater and we are all actors. The play becomes both comedy and drama in his recent From Rome, With Birds… series. Seagulls and pigeons take center stage as they fly between the camera and scenes of Italian street life.

Either well-timed shots or a curated collection of happy accidents, Khlif’s humorous series presents an alternate view of a city typically visited and photographed for its architecture. Like people passing in front of buildings, the birds are almost oblivious to the beauty they are obstructing. In the artist bio on his site, Khlif shares that his interest in photography began with a school project back in his home city of Tunis. The experience “made him aware of the power that photography has to reveal the beauty in each object,” even Roman birds.

To see more of Khlif’s photography from his travels around the world, check out his Behance portfolio and follow him on Instagram.

 

 



Photography

Found Wood Pieces Morph into Twisted Animal Portraits by Jonatan Maldonado

January 31, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Jonatan Maldonado, shared with permission

Jonatan Maldonado, a Los Angeles-based artist and creative director, has a strong sense of pareidolia, the psychological phenomenon causing humans to see faces and meaning in inanimate objects. In Creatures of the Ancient Forest, Maldonado’s black and white photographs frame found branches and chunks of wood at just the right angle, allowing viewers to catch a glimpse of a squawking bird or a horned animal poking its head out of a tree.

The dark, twisted series is ongoing, and the artist tells Colossal he’ll soon be in Alabama Hills, California, searching for more pieces⁠. “The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in California is the home to the oldest trees in the world,” he says. “Being surrounded by their spectacular shapes feels truly magical, or maybe it’s the lack of oxygen when hiking at 10,000 feet.” Follow Maldonado on Instagram to see what he spots next.

 

 



Art

Wildlife, Fruit, and Vines Merge in Surreal Paintings by Nunzio Paci

January 28, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Ivy that dreams of running far” (2019), oil on board, 90 x 60 centimeters. All images © Nunzio Paci, shared with permission

Combining a dense mix of natural elements, Bologna, Italy-based artist  Nunzio Paci (previously) reckons with the fragile line between life and death. Many of his 2019 oil paintings visualize both alert and recumbent animals, often with open eyes, intertwined with each other, leafy vines, and tall flowers. “Let me rest between brome and stones” depicts a dead deer with glazed over eyes lying among tall grasses and prairie flowers. “Blueberry chicken that thinks about tomorrow” has a more literal correlation to its title, featuring a blue- and purple-hued bird with its breast feathers replaced by the similarly colored fruit.

Paci tells Colossal that he hopes this surreal series reflects his “current exploration of the natural world and its connections with the dream sphere, nostalgia, and memory.” He created these pieces during his residency at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

If you’re in Los Angeles, head downtown to Corey Helford Gallery, where Paci’s work is part of the group exhibition The Influence of Fellini: A Surreal 100th Birthday Celebration until February 29. Otherwise, follow the artist on Instagram.

“Condition of stillness of a nameless cannibalized” (2019), oil on board, 90 x 60 centimeters

“Heart of gerbera” (2019), oil on board, 30 x 45 centimeters

“Blueberry chicken that thinks about tomorrow” (2019), oil on board, 30 x 45 centimeters

“Let me rest between brome and stones” (2019), oil on board, 30.5 x 30.5 centimeters

“Pollination syndrome” (2019), oil on board, 60 x 45 centimeters

“Tulip that confuses tears for dew” (2019), oil on board, 90 x 60 centimeters

“When pheasants learn to fly” (2019), oil on board, 90 x 60 centimeters

 

 



Craft

Using More Than 4,000 Pieces of Paper, Artist Lisa Lloyd Painstakingly Constructs Birds and Butterflies

December 20, 2019

Grace Ebert

Robin. All images © Lisa Lloyd, shared with permission

Employing tweezers to place each bit of paper, London-based artist Lisa Lloyd (previously) meticulously assembles birds and butterflies. Her realistic sculptures feature geometric pieces that are arranged in a pattern by color and then glued in place. Lloyd’s birds are constructed internally with a card, paper, and tissue paper skeleton before they are outfitted with more than 4,000 individual paper pieces that the artist hand-scores and fringes. Wire covered in tissue paper creates the birds’ feet, and the eyes are Filmo with a high gloss varnish. A recent butterfly sculpture posed a particular challenge, the artist says, because each wing had to be perfectly symmetrical, just like the real-life insect.

“Through practice, I’ve learned how to sculpt the paper so they look like they’re titling and turning their heads, which makes them feel more alive. Also, I try to give the wings the appearance that the birds are ruffling their feathers, also to make them seem more alive,” Lloyd shares with Colossal. It took her about two months to make three birds: the robin, the great spotted woodpecker, and the blue tit, which have found their permanent home perched on willow branches in a glass display, thanks to one of Lloyd’s London-based clients. You can add one of the artist’s vibrant sculptures to your own collection by purchasing from her shop, and follow her latest work on Instagram.

Great spotted woodpecker

Countryfile butterfly

A blue tit (top), great spotted woodpecker (left), and robin (right)

Blue tit

Blue tit

Robin

 

 



Art Photography

Photographer Tim Flach Highlights Unusual and Endangered Birds in Striking Portraits

November 25, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Jacobian Pigeon. All photographs © Tim Flach and shared with permission from the artist

London-based photographer Tim Flach travels the world capturing the nuanced expressions, unique patterning, and unusual profiles of animals large and small. Often focusing his lens on endangered and vulnerable species, Flach highlights the traits of animals that are at risk of disappearing due to habitat loss, climate change, and human activity. The photographer has worked with a huge range of wild, domestic, and captive animals, from Saiga and Beluga Sturgeons to Pied Tamarin and Pangolin.

Set on plain backdrops à la studio portraits, Flach’s bird photographs particularly stand out. His sharp, clear portraits show the colorful and wildly shaped feathers and beak of birds from the U.S. to the Himalayas. A stately Jacobian Pigeon, its two-toned ruff of feathers framing a white-crested face, seems to peer elegantly at the view, while an assertive cardinal stares pointedly, a white highlight glinting off the hook in the bird’s red beak. A statement on his website explains the relatable emotional quality of his work:

Tim Flach is an animal photographer with an interest in the way humans shape animals and shape their meaning while exploring the role of imagery in fostering an emotional connection. Bringing to life the complexity of the animal kingdom, his work ranges widely across species, united by a distinctive stylization reflecting an interest in how we better connect people to the natural world.

Flach has published several books of his photography: one is centered around endangered animals, while others are species-specific, celebrating horses or dogs. You can explore the artist’s catalog as well as several galleries of animal portraits on his website, and follow him on Instagram for first glimpses of new work.

Himalayan Monal

Virginia Cardinal

Philippine Eagle

Gouldian Finch

Silver Laced Poland Chicken

King Vulture

Shoebill