Leila Jeffreys’ Winged Portraits

The artist's interest in the natural world came from birds

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Leila Jeffreys
Photograph on archival fiber-based cotton rag paper
44 x 35 inches

THE ARTIST Leila Jeffreys

EARLY YEARS “My dad had a Pentax Spotmatic 35mm film camera. He was a keen photographer, and we traveled a lot overseas. That early memory must have sparked an interest and I took up photography. For me it was the pure passion of creating for the sake of creating (originally for no one else to see). Photography became my tool in understanding the world.”

BIRDS AS MEDIUM AND MESSAGE “My interest in the natural world came from birds. They occupy the space between other nonhuman worlds and ours, and they are a subject that almost every person on the planet can encounter. I also think they are spectacularly beautiful, clever and under-appreciated, and I wanted to show them at human size so that people would see their true qualities that can be missed.”

FINDING A PERCH “Most of the subjects are from wildlife rescue centers, so the birds have often be- come quite comfortable with humans who take care of them as they recover from their injuries. On set, it is always calm, quiet and with enough time for us all to bond. Food can also be a good bonding exercise in all animals!”

COMPASSION AND CONSERVATION “I hope that the works connect with people’s hearts and tap into our compassion for these creatures, especially people who say they ‘don’t like birds’ or are ‘scared of birds’ or perhaps they have never even noticed them. We are not the only species on the planet, and the tree you are considering cutting down in your backyard might be a family’s home.”

NEXT Jeffreys is busy working on a number of video art projects plus a new seabird series and a book to be published in 2023 by Thames & Hudson UK.

As seen in the September/October 2020 issue

Categories: Artists & Artisans