Winter Birds (2008)

Birds play an important role in my urban life. When I garden I try to keep in mind what I must do to make the garden look attractive in winter as well as what I can do to make it attractive to birds all year round. So my winter garden and the birds that share it are as important to me as my summer garden.

In this series I explore how the winter garden and winter birds stimulate my imagination. I have chosen to create the bowls in felt, a warm material that I associate with winter. In making the felt myself I have replicated the activity of women making warm felt boots or boot liners to keep their families warm. The bowls are black to represent the darkness of winter. In contrast, the birds are in bright or frosty colours to capture how they brighten my winter. The frosty colours also represent the illusive nature of winter birds which travel about, one day they visit my garden, another day they may be visiting the garden of someone else.

Obviously, hummingbirds do not stay to experience the deep snow of my Quebec winter, but they touch my imagination nevertheless. I always imagine them visiting some other garden farther south – a garden in March more like my own in June or a garden of terra cotta tiles and tropical flowers in mid-December. Does the hummingbird that arrives in my garden in May return each fall to the garden of some other woman who loves birds and flowers as much as I do – not just a hummingbird of my heart, but a woman of my heart in some warmer clime?

By choosing to work with robust felt and the more delicate technique of needle felting for the decorative elements I am once again working with the tension between strength and fragility, the fragility in this case being the more ephemeral or illusive nature of bird watching, that has characterized all of my work.

Harbinger Gallery, Waterloo 2008