Birds for inspiration

Bird-inspiration-mandarin-duckScrolling through a selection of recents photographs I noticed how often birds have been used as a source of creative inspiration. Using creatures symbolically is as old as human culture and even if a bird or animal representation is purely decorative, the work still offers an insight into how the maker viewed their natural environment.

There is this fierce goose-like bird from the Anglo Saxons. It is part of the metal helmet (circa CE625) found amongst the treasures of the Sutton Hoo ship burial discovered in Suffolk, East Anglia. The bird design works as part of the structure of the helmet too with the wings shielding the eyebrows, the body of the bird protecting the nose and the tail fashioned into a metal moustache above the wearer’s mouth.

Then we have a simple, stylised bird on this French jug from about 1300. French pottery was popular during the 13th century when shipped as part of the wine trade to the English royal court from Aquitaine to England. Despite its age this bird motif has a contemporary ‘now’ feel.
French-earthenware-jug-bird-decoration-c1300-Saintonge-France

Birds often featured in hunting scenes as shown in these paintings which decorated the late-fifteenth-century East Anglian parish rood screens.

And, birds have often alluded to the unworldly or exotic as shown by this needlework representation of  ‘A Byrd of America’ from about 1570. This textile was embroidered either by Mary, Queen of Scots, or, Elizabeth, Countess of Hardwick and forms part of the Oxburgh hangings.

Oxburgh Hanging Byrd

Then we have my recent photograph taken in North Norfolk of a black stork and the beginnings of its translation into the design for a silk scarf.

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Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

9 thoughts on “Birds for inspiration”

  1. I look forward to seeing how the scarf turns out. And I am astounded at the “contemporary” French bird pitcher of the 13th century – I had no idea that such images existed from that time, I think of all of it being very fussy and elaborate.

  2. I totally agree and understand how you feel about birds . Birds inspire me every day. I spend a lot of time watching birds with binoculars and photographing them. They have incredible individual personalities. You may have been my bird photos/haiku on my blog?

    1. I agree with you the real thing is by far the most beautiful and the top bird was just sitting on the ground and cooly completely ignored me and my camera so close!

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