A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds


Louise Jennison
A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds
Artists' book, unique state, pencil on Fabriano Artistico 300gsm traditional white hot-press paper
With explorer's narrative by Gracia Haby
Housed in a linen Solander box


This artists'  book was officially launched on Wednesday the 23rd of October in the Leigh Scott Room of the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, 2013. It was opened by writer and curator, John Kean.

JANUARY Yellow-billed Kingfisher (Syma torotoro)
FEBRUARY Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus)
MARCH Crested Jay (Platylophus galericulatus)
APRIL Yellow-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes flavifrons)
MAY Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)
JUNE Grey-rumped Treeswift (Hemiprocne longipennis)
JULY Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus)
AUGUST Red Knot (Calidris canutus)
SEPTEMBER Superb Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus superbus)
OCTOBER Rufous Hornero (Furnarius rufus)
NOVEMBER Antarctic Tern (Sterna vittata)
DECEMBER Shaft-tailed Whydah (Vidua regia)

In Louise Jennison’s A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds unique state artists’ book, twelve birds are brought together and their portraits hand-drawn for posterity. Depicted to scale, each bird, one for every month of the year, is encircled by the food it eats (the Crested Jay by a ring of wasps, the adult and juvenile Southern Boobooks by a mischief of mice, the Grey-rumped Treeswift by a necklace of butterflies from Malaysia), the home it keeps (the Rufous Hornero in her dried mud nest-cum-oven, the Shaft-tailed Whydah on an Acacia branch), and the things it does (the sticks cleared by the Kakapo to make a stage from which to woo a mate). Alongside written facts and a pocket of environment drawn, these portraits in book form bring together a year’s worth of work. Housed in a Solander box made to scale of turquoise linen with an interior lined gold (to recall the wings of parrots et. al.), this work is both homage to Audubon and his ilk, and something more.
In companion to this, A Flight of Twelve Southern Hemisphere Birds, a concertina bound artists’ book of smaller scale, and an edition of ten. In this edition, the portraits previous are hand-coloured by pencil, rendering the Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Red-rumped Parrot, Superb Fruit-Dove, and the Yellow-fronted Woodpecker luminous and (relatively) true.
In both works, the bird is shown as living creature to respect and to be in awe of, and as something not so very different to ourselves. The homes we build, the lives we lead, the desires we hold, the foods we eat, the patterns we form, the knowledge we hold, and our means to survive: are not we all more similar than not?

A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds is in the collection of the State Library of New South Wales.