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Tide Brings the Black Crow depicts the Australian Crow at the threshold of life and death. It is a revisit of a previous series of work titled Tide Brings the Silver Gull. The paintings are detailed and intricate portrayals of birds, using narrative to explore the tragic realities these animals are exposed to as a result of human negligence. The birds are graceful and given aa sense of dignity in their undignified death.

I have surrounded the Crows with imagery that gives the composition a shrine like feel. Even the trash scattered around the birds contribute to a conceptual ritualistic offering to honour the passing of these souls. Through this composition, the subject is exalted and given status. Each Crow rests on their own unique bed of seaweed and collected debris to carry them. The three works are linked together with the repeated motif of the crow. There is a crow, seaweed and trash in each artwork although each crow is positioned differently, there is different rubbish and different seaweed.

The two series, Tide Brings the Black Crow and Tide Brings the Silver Gull, complement each other through the repeated use of fishing line constricting the birds into their resting positions. There is also a duality and tension caused by the use of 3 black birds and 3 white birds. Light and dark, day and night, life and death.

The works began as a response to an encounter with a seagull who had a fishing line hanging out of their beak. The helplessness I felt, knowing this bird cannot live much longer with this inside their body was devastating. I knew this bird was dead before it had even died. For years I have been against fishing, and this experience has solidified why I am against the hunting practise. Not only is fishing contributing to large overfishing of our oceans, it is also contributing to the already huge amount of plastics and rubbish already in our oceans. The viewer of these works is forced to look into a macabre mirror that reflects our negligence in hunting practises, our carelessness for leaving no trace of rubbish and single use plastic culture. It brings the human role in these deaths to the forefront. We are to be self examined and questioned on our part in the horrific scene.

In the book Animal Dreaming, the Crow symbolically represents “law”. They are creatures of the void represented through their black feathers. They exist in the past, present and future simultaneously. They make little distinction between right and wrong but understand the necessity of the existence of both. The laws that the Crow represents are the understanding that whatever we do will be returned to us three fold, that it matters not what we do in the life so long as our actions bring harm to none. Although karma appears patient it is often ruthless in its delivery. If we continue to trash the Earth and live in careless ways, we will be punished worse than our current situation around COVID-19, which is already proving to be a cleansing of the planet from human existence and our emissions.

While struggling with the heavy aspect of this subject matter I have formed a strong emotional connection with it. These issues have always been important to me, but I have struggled to find a way to voice these issues through my art. I usually paint beautiful and positive subject matter. Through navigating these two series of works I have found a way I can bring forth this important and necessary message in a way that still plays into my illustrative style and which has allowed me to grow since the previous series. I have improved my painting ability since the last series and the details are more crisp. The composition is also better with more appropriate use of the space surrounding the birds., the works look better with more seaweed filing the space.

A3 size
Acrylic on arches water colour paper.
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