Poem for the Bower Bird

The Poem for the Bower Bird was a playful experiment on my last days at Bundanon Trust.

I was introduced to Satin Bowerbirds via the great David Attenborough, through my TV screen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLY6RP1ys9c), so I was well excited to see a real one living in the grounds of the Homestead. The bower was right in the middle of the Victorian garden and every time I came down to the Homestead I would watch it grow.

Slowly, a few blue and purple things started appearing – mostly plastic bits and a few Jacaranda flowers.

the-bower

The Bower

My last week at Bundanon I came up with the idea of making a “poem” for the bird, a play on words with the aim of seeing if he would pick them up in any particular order and add them to the bower. I first placed them on some slabs of wood and left them very close to the bower.

poem-on-wood

This was clearly an offence. I had trespassed his territory and he didn’t like it – the bird picked the whole pieces of wood and dropped some 5 meters away from the bower. Luckily the letters were carefully stuck down with a bit of blue tack, so they survived the rejection.

I then tried placing the poem a bit further away, but still on the wood.

poem on wood1

No success. I don’t know why, but after a day or so the bird had shown no interest whatsoever in the blue letters. On my very last afternoon at Bundanon, I changed tactics and placed the letters directly onto a bench close to the bower, where I’d seen the bird some times.

poem-on-bench

The letters were quite small, about the size of the small purple flowers he’d shown interest in before. Here you can see them to scale.

poem-on-bench2

Success! I returned next morning to find the letters had become part of the bower.

It turns out the bower birds are great at installation art & sculpture using nature (take note Andy Goldsworthy.) Anyway, I’d love to carry on doing work in natural environments, where nature plays a definitive part in the process & outcome. I found it interesting to see how nature can redefine  the economics of play and work and instinct obviously takes a prime spot. I’ll have to research the behaviour of British animals though….

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One response to “Poem for the Bower Bird

  1. This is brilliant, Maru! I love how we’ll try anything to get people and/or birds interested in poetry…

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