An exciting visual exploration of the history of birds’ nests and egg collecting through animation, video, sculpture and music is celebrated in Natural Selection, an exhibition of works by father-son team, artist Andy Holden and ornithologist Peter Holden
Bird lovers rejoice, for after debuting in London, Natural Selection celebrates an astonishing diversity of natural forms while embracing different ways of looking. Offering visitors an intimate insight into the world of birds, respected ornithologist Peter Holden has teamed up with his artist son, Andy Holden, to create a unique two-part collaborative view of the ornithological world.
The exhibition is thematically divided into two parts. In A Natural History of Nest Building, the first part, Peter and Andy visit and observe the nest building habitats of woodpeckers and weaver-birds, house martins and oven birds through a three-screen video. Impactful large-scale sculptures representing those made by bowerbirds fill the space, alongside Andy Holden’s new display of bird feathers which have been brought in exclusively for the Towner show. Other ornate sculptures have been made by instrument-maker and wood-turner Geoffrey Leeson, and are based on the wave-forms of birdsong.
In A Social History of Egg Collecting, part two of the collaborative view, an animated crow tells a story. It follows the development of egg collecting from aristocratic pursuit to boyhood hobby, all the way through to underground illegality following the Protection of Birds Acts of 1954 which saw the ban of the once popular activity in Britain. The exhibition displays a trove of stolen eggs found in the home of infamous collector Richard Pearson in 2006. The collection has been meticulously displayed, depicting the rebellious streak of the collector.
A co-commission with London’s Artangel, the Bristol Museum and Leeds Art Gallery, Natural Selection originally launched at Artangel in South London in late 2017, before moving to Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. Here it has been carefully reimagined for Towner’s larger space, and includes additional elements by Andy Holden, such as new ‘rook’ paintings, tapestries inspired by John Clare and the land enclosure acts, as well as rarely seen works by Eric Ravilious, allowing the exhibition to take on new meaning in the context of nearby rural Sussex. Here, we share some of the highlights.
The exhibition runs at Towner Art gallery until 22nd April 2018
Photography courtesy of Towner Art Gallery