Oblique Ornithologies – The Banqueting Hall, Jesmond
31 July 2010 – 10 August 2010

This was an exhibition of work by William Colwell, Ken Grant, Jennie Spiers Grant and myself. Spiers Grant wrote about the exhibition ‘The oblique ornithology of the title reflects an unorthodox view of the study of birds’.

Spiers Grant wrote about the exhibition:

‘The oblique ornithology of the title reflects an unorthodox view of the study of birds. A journey in May by Bill Colwell and Jennie Spiers Grant to Staple Island and the Inner Farne here in Northumberland met the Arctic Tern in a rare moment of pause in its continuous polar journeying. Flight observations through film and tracking of Sterna on the river Wear intersect with the Global.

The intimate and local, personal and familiar are also intertwined within Mike Collier’s work, like maritime flags signaling the presence and significance of birds in the cultural landscape. Language here is freed from the specific to the poetic.

Ken Grants encoded moment of a chance and incongruous encounter with a magpie amongst cherry blossom, indicates the complexity of perceptual and subjective experience, an exactness of relationships composed of memories and harmonics. Similarly, the notational approach to recording birdsong by Spiers Grant references biosemiotics – the field of science focussed on communication of species and cross communication between species. Sonograph recordings, for example, place pitch and duration but omit space – drawing retrieves the spatial dimension and confuses the picture, reducing certainties and raising questions. Here the subjective experience has a role. The integration of space within the content of the drawing is seen clearly in Ken Grant’s linear explorations in the bird Language series.

In the wider perceptual field a speculative work collides the dawn chorus of birdsong with the dawn chorus of spherics – the electromagnetic traces recorded through time and space at the margins of human experience.’