Sunday, April 19, 2009

Feeding the birds

This weekend, a handsome new bird feeder arrived on my doorstep; within the next day or two, it'll be mounted to hang from the big old tree in my front garden. The bellbirds, kereru, wax-eyes, tuis and I will be able to enjoy breakfast in each others' company - perch to porch - each morning.

If birds could write thank you letters, I have no doubt there'd be a stuffed mailbox for the kind and clever person who hand-crafted this safe-haven for our feathered friends. It's beautifully made; the wood (cedar, manuka, macrocarpa) will silver over time and the copper flashings will tarnish as they're exposed to our salt-laden harbour-side weather; this feeder's built to last.  

A small green visitor (spot the cicada?)

I'm in contented nesting mode at the moment; after several years of accelerated adventure, learning and transition, it's good to be settling back into a quietly considered rhythm. What pleasure to be able to plunge my hands daily into the rich, fertile soil of home. House, studio and garden are getting a good deal of much-needed attention; since returning from my last big trip, I've laid the grounds for a new body of work and when I haven't been in the studio, I've been outside digging up and re-planting a section of my garden that seems to me to have been waiting for this kind of time and dedicated affection. 

Every now and then it strikes me that I'm in the slightly surprising company of clarity, ease and balance. Dare I believe this might even become a sustainable pattern?  

Speaking of balance, my much-anticipated spirit vials (the 'bubble' components used to make builders' levels and to provide a level axis on navigation instruments, cameras, etc... ) arrived from the US. Yay. I was relieved to find them waiting on my front doorstep when I returned from Wellington a week or so ago. I'm incorporating these fragile glass vials in a series of paintings and sculptural pieces for my exhibition at The Arthouse in Christchurch in August. The vials (as object and metaphor) are integral to what's been a life-long exploration into the methods and modes of relationship we play out in our lives. This new work addresses the various imperatives of solitude, one-on-one companionship, family, small group dynamics and, too, communal, collaborative exchange. (I'll say more about all this as the process unfolds.)

As I write, it occurs to me that certain things - whether bird feeder, spirit vial, opportunity, challenge, departure or meeting - certain things come along at precisely the right time. 

Going back to birds for one more moment... They make me think warmly of my father. My childhood home in Johannesburg was named Izinyoni (Zulu word meaning 'home of birds) and feeding birds is a ritual my dear pa - now living in the UK - has been faithful to for as long as I can remember. He advocates that we have much to learn from birds, that nature is nurture. 


  1. A beautiful post Claire. I love that you have the clarity, ease and balance components all sorted. You are digging in! Yay. (The bird feeder looks wonderful. We daren't have one here as with two cats it's a little too much like enticing the little birdies towards a death trap.)

  2. That's a pretty swish looking bird-table there Claire ... compared to my two planks nailed to the retaining wall opposite my kitchen - well, all yours will need is some of that grit-paper for budgies and I reckon you've got yourself some upmarket executive housing there! Yes, and good enough for birds too!

    Hey guess what, my cousin from Port Elizabeth used to be a news-reader on South African telly! Yep, that's my greatest claim to er, fame ... I know, I know, it's tragic really isn't it. ;)

    All The Best!

  3. The bird feeder is gorgeous. We have one the boys painted up so it is pretty colourful! The birds seem to like it.

  4. Hi Kay - I know what you mean! The neighbours' cats (and six chooks) pop in from time to time, so I get to gather a soft 'n fluffy creature up onto my knee for a cuddle from time to time. Having a feeder for the birds feels like having my parents & far-flung family around. Next step... an airedale! (I'm digging in, yes!) If you hear of an adult one needing a home, I'd be instantly keen!

  5. Hello bluemoon - your cousin from PE was a newsreader on SA TV? Who is she, pray tell!

    Two planks nailed to the retaining wall sounds just as splendid and no doubt keeps the birds in your garden just as well-fed, and you just as happy! I continue to find your obd posts impressive - especially the recent dalek gallery & mind-to-mind mandala 'expositions.'

    Pen - the tuis are circling. One in particular...

    Vanda - great to know you have a feeder, too - especially one your boys painted! Post a pic?

  6. Well, my "world-famous in South Africa" cousin was a fella actually :) ... and it was years and years and years ago now ... his name is Peter Blood, if that rings any bells ...?

    Yes, my bird-table outside the kitchen is rilly rilly great, as it gives me something to contemplate when I'm absent-mindedly washing the dishes! Like ... "Hmm, how come those two planks of wood never EVER attract any birds!"

    And I'm delighted to hear you like the dalek Gallery! Cos yes, I have ooo - about one billion dalek images that deserve a wider audience!

    Well, I'm exaggerating of course - it's nowhere near a billion - in fact it's only about nine hundred thousand really, so it's not even a measly millyun yet! ;)

    Anyway, I thought I'd set it up, as being a dalek isn't just about trudging through some philosophical wilderness y'know, a dalek always finds time for some fun! Plus I noticed some readers seem um, a little reticent about commenting, so I thought perhaps the more bashful might like to sign up to the dalek Arts & Crafts Fair instead! (OK then, that's the naff marketing pitch over haha - phew! ;)

    Oh, and I see you have did and gone and posted again, so that's something to save for a later read! ... Thank Q!

    All The Best!

  7. Oops, bluemoon, your cousin is a 'he' not a 'she!' I'm not sure why I jumped to the conclusion you were talking about a female relative. I confess (with apologies to your news-reading relly) that the name Peter Blood does not ring a bell, but then I'm not exactly the world's most fanatical TV-watcher (added to which I came to NZ almost fifteen years ago!)

    re; your two planks --- do you actually/actively FEED your birds?! Sugar water is sure draw a crowd. (1/3 sugar, 2/3 water)

    Yes, I'm one of those bashful, dare-I-post-a-comment-on-this-super-sharp dalek blog people. I have, however, added my name to your list of gallery followers!

    Have a great week.

  8. You reckon I should try feeding the birds then ...?

    hmm, I must admit that's quite an innovative idea you've had there Claire! Have you actually tried this approach yourself - I mean, you reckon bribery an' all that actually works with bird-brains ...?

    I must confess there were no instructions included with the two planks of wood, on account that I found them hibernating under the house when I was cleaning out. But I figured that no way would birds know the difference between a plank and a tree, and just took it from there. ;)

    PS: It's great to see you've signed up as a viewer of the dalek Gallery too, Thank Q! ... lots of new goodies are lined up for the May exhibition!