Sandra Meigs
Bird Stuffers

25 May to 30 June 2023

taxidermy cabinet.jpg

A painting on an old tablecloth of a 19th century bird taxidermy cabinet. The edges are torn and frayed, lifting and curling. The fabric is laid out and laminated onto a wood panel. Fourteen birds vary in size and colour. They are painted as if flying, landing, relaxing, or perching. The background is ambiguously a landscape. The depiction of shadows creates a shallow sense of depth. The sky is an ombré of blues hovering over a yellow ground the colour of hay and lemons. There is a painted frame within the brown border and rough illusionistic highlights as if the sun were coming from above. The frame is not convincing, nor is it meant to be. The birds, frozen in time, are clumsy meanderings of paint on an old woven surface. A sincere parody of its original source, these birds are not kept or owned but reimagined and recycled. They are not stuffed but handled with the same intimate care.

A painting on recycled jute of a bird lit up by moonlight and fallen beside a leaning tree. The colours in the sky suggest that it is dusk, with the moon close to setting. A dead, uprooted tree's roots and branches, leaves, large stones and forest silhouette contrast with the sky. The jagged branches and stark contrasts create a cautionary environment, but more alarming and ominous is the bird which lies in the foreground, perfectly lit. The light source comes from in front, not behind, glowing in a spotlight. The moon in the centre is alluring, and the landscape romantic. But the bird in the forefront is not sleeping, it has passed. And it is alluded to that the surrounding landscape will follow.

A painting on a wooden panel that centres a cloud is bordered by what appears to be bodies of water, rain, shadows, sunshine, trees, wind, waves, whirlpools, dust storms, landslides, fresh air, and more clouds. What centres this painting is the philosopher's cloud. Clouds are physical manifestations of the weather, so the Earthly events in the philosopher's cloud would be several of the things listed above. The Human thoughts in the philosophy cloud would include the concept of free will versus determinism, the meaning of life, truth, abstract reasoning, the nature of beauty, moral principles, and critical theory articulating all the cultural relations, and finally, the failures of and hopes for the discipline itself. What's painted here are the Earthly manifestations in the clouds that will never cease - they become much better without the human philosophizers.