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Seabird form in dark clay and close up drawing of a seabird's beak, on a light grey background.

A Feather in the Ocean

an encounter with seabirds  

An exhibition of new works by Kirsty O’Connor and Cally Yeatman – also featuring a new music composition by Loriana Pauli. 

Join us on Friday June 30th at 7pm to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, with the opportunity to meet the artists. The UAA Summer Open Exhibition will also be opening at the same event. All are welcome; refreshments provided.

since we do float on an unknown sea I think we should examine the other floating things that come our way carefully; who knows what might depend on it. *

The form and stories of seabirds have caught both of our imaginations. Older than us, they are longer connected to the sea and the places they return to on their 10,000 year patterns of migration to breed. We meet them in their still point – when they surface from their ocean realm to touch us in our land based world. Otherwise they inhabit the vast distances of the sea, this other world, as strange as the moon, that we live alongside or on the surface of.

Only 350 out of 11,000 odd species of birds have taken to the sea. For all their differences a certain way of life unites them…slow to mature, waiting many years to lay an egg …often raising a single chick…They are not boom and busters, but steady long term investors… **

They arrive when the summer days lengthen on their own river in the sky with no visas, just an instinctual knowledge of their world. They touch down at the edge, into their noisy crowded colonies and in encountering these, one is overwhelmed by this seemingly boundless vitality; but the population of seabirds globally has dropped by two thirds in the last sixty years and the pressures are only increasing. A third of all seabirds are at threat of extinction. 

Cally Yeatman

I have chosen to work with several of the seabirds that I have encountered in their vibrant living forms, by making observational drawings of their skulls, starting with ones that I have found in the strandline.  They are drawn to scale at 5 times their life size as I wanted to find a way to bring the viewer into their world, to relate to them and imagine how it might be to inhabit the majestic and intricate world of ocean.

Kirsty O’Connor

Inspired, originally, by earlier artwork of Cally’s, I have been exploring the shapes of landed seabirds, particularly guillemot and gannet, in the form of hand-built clay vessels, smoke-fired in sawdust and seaweed. I am fascinated by the curve of the body, the questing blade like beak and the paradox of attempting to render the essence of a being so light and fleet, in the heavy earth of clay. In this work, I wish to honour these creatures of air and ocean.

*Elisabeth Bishop from a letter to Robert Lowell

**Adam Nicolson from ‘The Seabird’s Cry’