I certainly don't see or hear too many birds from my fifth-floor flat, although clusters of goldfinches magically appear in the springtime, gracing the scrubby, scruffy trees in the street down below with their elegant, colourful presence. However, I have come across a few exotic species over the last few months.
The most stunning were perhaps the ones to be found in the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury. Some are small features from 17th century Dutch stained-glass window panels set in the museum staircase, but others were in exhibition display cabinets (hence the annoying light reflections on the photographs!). Unfortunately I didn't take notes on the exact origins or history of these pieces during my visit, so I will have to wait till next time...
As with most centuries-old art, the aspect and appearance of the humans that were dutifully represented on canvas, or indeed, stained glass often seem quaintly 'dated' to our 21st century eyes and aesthetics, but the animals portrayed always appear uncannily timeless or contemporary even.
Strangely quirky expressions and quizzical tilts of the head are displayed by beasts, feathered or furred, that seem to capture some essential bestial essence that wipes away the vast expanse of years that separates us from the time of their creation.
Funny beady eyes peer out at us knowingly, or otherwise the beast in question seems to be too engrossed in its own activity to pay any attention to us mere spectators, or indeed any of the human actors in the artwork in question.
The tortoiseshell butterfly below is caught in its perfect state, like an insect in resin, as if it had been captured only yesterday...
I came across this beautiful bird-making kit over Christmas, and couldn't resist it. I do wish there were some more European common-or-garden species in the set since ironically I rarely catch sight of the humble robin, wren or bullfinch these days. Maybe I could make my own version, once I have finally assembled these fine North American specimens!