Bird box

I’ve made an artwork in a bird box as part of Isobel Smith’s project, Art at Glynde station. 

Local artists are given a bird box to work with. When complete, their mini art works are hung on wooden walls of the long shelter on Platform 1, on a mural painted by the Baron Gilvan.

My birdbox is called Soil Microbes. The viewer looks into the bird box through the hole covered by a lens. Inside, on a background of green lined graph paper, are colourful shapes of bacteria floating in their own micro-world.

I’ve been reading about the web of microbes in the soil as part of an interest in organic gardening, earthworms and the other creatures in the soil. The garden birds, that may live in this garden centre bird box, are part of the soil food web, which begins with an unimaginable number of bacteria, moving through to fungi, arthropods and worms.

The bird box bacteria are represented as if they are under a microscope, through the distortion and uneven focus of a lens (a magnifying glass) so it feels as if we are looking into another world. The graph paper gives the impression of measuring and gathering data and evidence. It’s a nod to idea of basing decisions on findings and evidence.

Thinking of the techniques of scientific visualisation, close-up scientific imagery is often coloured or tinted to make the content clearer, hence the multicolour microbes in the bird box. The colour also gives it a sense of play and fun and looks like a 1980’s fashion fabric design.

I’ve had my eyes tested on large like machines, which look like they could be in the film Metropolis, at the opticians and I bought some cheap glasses to help focus on close work. I found a 1960s microscope from Glynde fete brick-a-brac to look at finds from the garden, though I have yet to master it.

There is physical movement required to focus on a subject – leaning into the bird box, moving a book forwards and backwards or twisting the rings on a microscope.


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