By Nina J P Evans

Monday, May 30, 2016

Birds of a Feather

Inspired by a trip to a pet shop titled Bird Paradise in the States, billed as the largest exotic bird superstore probably in the world, artist Claire Rosen armed herself with 200 sheets of wallpaper, a bird handler and a makeshift studio set up at the superstore. Her idea was to produce a whimsical series of photographic portraits featuring exotic birds with designed wallpaper as backgrounds. 

Wallpapers have often been inspired by either geometric shapes or nature. William Morris’s most popular repeating design for textiles was titled Strawberry Thief, 1883 an exquisite repeat design of flora, fruit and thrushes produced in an array of colour combinations used for fabrics and wall hangings. In the 18th-century, exotic birds were quite popular as pets. You can imagine rich stately homes featuring bold silk wall hangings and woodblock printed wallpaper designs, Gainsborough paintings and French bird stands with beautifully coloured exotic birds bringing the property to life. Nowadays French 18th-century romanticism is still a most popular style, as featured in plays, films, books and the fashion industry.

Claire Rosen’s photographic portraits achieve the same aim, only she’s treated the subject matter rather like a Vogue photoshoot the compositions and colours are very keenly selected and the bird’s characterful expressions are priceless! They are very beautiful, and so are the wallpapers selected. I also like the contrast created between the illustrative designs of the wallpapers and the photographic medium of the bird portraiture, this creates a visual contrast between the mediums, at the same time every detail of the colours is coordinated between subject and background, I think to perfection. 

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