Plumage: The Majestic Art of Birds

Starting: March 7th, 2019 — Ending: June 3rd, 2019

Audobon’s ‘Double-crested Cormorant’

Plumage – The Majestic Art of Birds features a diverse collection of artwork that explores the fascination artists have had with birds over the last 200 years. The exhibit is a celebration of one of nature’s most diverse and dynamic species and draws together historically significant artworks by major naturalists and artists, as well as contemporary images by local wildlife photographers.

Birds have always resonated with people because of the many similarities they share with us; like delighting in communication, building intricate shelters, using beauty to both attract and repel, migrating for opportunity and exhibiting a propensity for play.

Yet, we are also awed by their ‘otherness’, including their mysterious habits and abilities. Birds have that magical quality and mastery over their world which we as humans can only observe in wonder. They exist in every corner of the world, from pristine natural areas to urban, human-impacted spaces. They are simultaneously commonplace and exotic, practical and entertaining, simple yet beautiful.

Most importantly birds offer a connection to the natural world which we are losing more and more. Robert Bateman profoundly believes that, ‘the world would be a better place if everyone was a bird watcher‘, and it is through conservation, science and art that we can rebuild our connection to nature. Featuring works from some of the world’s most iconic and pioneering artists like JJ Audubon, Bruno Liljefors, Fenwick Lansdowne and Robert Bateman, this exhibition traverses time, scale and style – much like birds themselves.

Plumage is made possible through the loan of art work from the following generous contributors: Bill Beese, Birgit & Robert Bateman, Bristol Foster, the Black Family, Christian Dokk Smith, Davidson Galleries, Dennis Drechsler, Diane and David Reesor, Jim Price, Terry Venables, St. Michael University School, and the Vernon Museum & Archives.

Exhibit Guardian: Brigitte and Henning Freybe

Photograph by Terry Venables

Featured artists:

John James Audubon (1785-1851) was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. Charles Darwin was a student of Audubon, and quoted him several times in “On Origin of Species”. Often cited as “the most expensive book of all time,” his major work was a colour-plate book entitled “The Birds of America” (1827–1839), considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed.

James Fenwick Lansdowne, OC OBC (1937-2008) was a renowned Canadian painter, illustrator, printmaker and author. Born in Hong Kong but later brought up in Victoria, BC, Lansdowne’s works have been exhibited around the world.

Major Allan Brooks (1869-1946) was born in India, but emigrated to Canada in the 1880s, and became one of the most important North American bird illustrators during the first half of the twentieth century. He became a household name in Canada, featuring in numerous publications, including National Geographic Magazine and Taverner’s Birds of Western Canada.

Terry Venables is a locally-based wildlife photographer, with a particular passion for birds and the natural ecosystems of Southern Vancouver Island.