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Avifaunae

Most crawling reptilians, the most earthbound of all creatures, have remained unchanged for millions of years. Some, however, grew feathers and wings and turned into birds, thus defying the force of gravity that had held them for so long. They didn't become better at crawling or walking, but transcended crawling and walking entirely. -- Eckhart Tolle, 'A New Earth'

We developed an interest in birds independently at a young age - watching them, reading about them, generally fascinated by them. During our life together, they have remained a major passion. Twitching is not our thing; we are as hypnotised by the 'common' species as the rare. To us, they are the ultimate in mindfulness meditation - an everyday connection and reminder of the ephemeral, and of resilience in the face of fragility.

From our garden in the southwest of France, we have counted 82 species so far and are always on the lookout for more. Our trusty Collins Bird Guide (2nd Ed.) - the definitive reference, to which we owe much - is always at hand. It's a pleasure tainted with unrest, however; even over ten years in this one place, the nightingales have diminished in number, skylarks are not to be seen, and we await the golden orioles with trepidation every summer.

Over the years, we have feebly attempted to translate our spiritual relationship with birds visually: London in Europe, for example, contains the names of every European species; in 2012, we made a large work entitled The Birds of Europe; members of the crow family have coyly (or less coyly) populated our works since the beginning. But we are unsatisfied, with a need to indulge our minimally scientific, but deeply felt, fascination to the full.

The tireless work of the EU and NGOs in the protection of birds is something that rarely enters political debate or the public conscious; but they are an important indicator of environmental health on a European and global scale. There are also symbolic parallels between their lives, in terms of residency and migration, and the identity crisis that Europe faces today. The Birds of Europe marks our attempt to add to the discourse; we chose the tiny size of the individual drawings, set against the typical coded, human landscapes of Hipkiss, to emphasize their collective importance to our world.

Reflecting further, and excited at the prospect of exploring birdlife elsewhere in the world, we have decided to widen the project: Avifaunae will be broken down into mini-projects, created alongside for The Birds of Europe, with depictions of the 9000+ species in the world.

John James Audubon's masterpiece, The Birds of America, and the trials he endured during its making, have long been an inspiration for us. Whilst scientific in his aims and achievements, his work was evidently fuelled by a love of his subject and executed in his very personal style - appearing whimsical or even naïve to the modern viewer. Our title pays tribute to his endeavours, and we hope to produce a similarly comprehensive collection of quirky portraits without losing that necessary sense of deference.

As the collection builds, what's shown on the image page of the site will represent a small sample of the birds covered. We suggest bookmarking this page, where there will shortly be a frequently uploaded catalogue featuring the full list with images and availability. In the meantime, any requests for particular birds, from anywhere in the world, are welcome!

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