Leila Jeffreys at BHV-Marais: Australian nature in the spotlight
Australian artist Leila Jeffreys is known for her exquisite bird portraits which are a unique combination of aesthetics, technical skill and engagement with the natural environment.
Portraits of birds and nature conservation
Jeffrey’s began documenting birds in 2008, working with conservationists, ornithologists and wildlife sanctuaries. This led her to explore and subvert the traditions of portraiture. Through extensive research, travels, and long periods of observation of her subjects, she has developed the skills to photograph native Australian birds as individuals.
Her images of birds are simultaneously serious and witty, gentle and strong, dreamy and yet deeply rooted in reality. Through her gaze, seemingly minor details become essential and contribute to making each bird unique. Leila Jeffreys transforms our perception through her work: we no longer consider these birds just as animals, we discern personalities and character traits in them that are familiar to us. She creates bridges of understanding between the human and animal worlds.
The particular attention given to nature in her work comes from her passion for the environment. She works in the tradition of artist-activists like Robert Smithson and Agnes Denes and contemporary artists such as Janet Laurence, Ann Craven and Roe Etheridge. In addition to being highly aesthetic, her work questions our relationship with the environment that surrounds us, with nature and the animals that inhabit it.
About photographing budgerigars, the small Australian parrots which are often overlooked, Leila Jeffreys says: “It is the result of more than five years of planning and commitment; a pledge to making the impossible possible. It began when I noticed how a flock of native Australian budgerigars look like leaves on a tree. Looking closer I saw individuals, couples, and families – a secret High Society”. We understand that her work is about changing our perspective, it is about taking a step back to look closer.
Leila Jeffreys at BHV-MARAIS
This is why we selected her work for windows of the BHV-Marais during the Colours Australia operation from 29 January to 27 February 2022. The video work, ‘Nature is not a place to visit. It is home’, a triptych that sees a flock of budgerigars flying with liquid grace between the boughs of a tree, is an ode to the invisible threads that connect us to our habitats and to each other. Leila Jeffreys’ artwork allows the French public to discover the uniqueness of Australian nature, to explore the diversity and beauty of its colours and to live an immersive experience among some of its most emblematic birds. You can also discover her work in more detail through her book, Les Oiseaux, available in the Agora space of the department store.
Nigel Lough / Travel & Luxury Magazine / News Ltd