A Festive Flock: Leila Jeffreys’ “Ornithurae Volume 1” text by Valerie McPhail

Arriving to the Olsen Gruin, for the opening reception of Leila Jeffreys’ “Ornithurae Volume 1,” I opened the door to the sound of birds chirping, and smiled. As I walked the gallery, a location characteristically austere in appearance, the portraits of birds transformed the space into a sanctuary. Approaching the sight of the Skye Red-tailed Black Cockatoo and the Yogi Umbrella Cockatoo I smiled. The bird’s yellow spotted coat is uniquely beautiful, and the crest of the Cockatoo amusing. Gazes move from their feathers unto their eyes, where spectators can find expressions of life. Such was the impact Jeffreys intended for this exhibition of colorful and intimate portraits of Pigeons, Cockatoos and Doves.Jeffreys desires support and awareness around their “beauty, diversity and to inspired a deeper concern for their well being.” She uses her art as a platform for her environmental passions, to draw attention to an animal commonly neglected. Photographs titled by breed such as Squatter Pigeon and Crested Pigeon, Jeffreys’ captures the intelligence of the birds. Tom Low explains in writing from his book, Where song began, “ Domestic pigeons in experiments have distinguished letters of the alphabet, different emotions on human faces, paintings by Picasso and Monet, and even breast cancer tumours on scans.” In the face of her subjects, the New Guinea Ground Dove and the Superb Fruit Dove there is a stern gaze achieving in poise. Jeffreys’ artwork fosters a perspective attending to the lives of the nature around us.

Ornithurae Volume 1 by Leila Jeffreys "Snowfall"



Among the exhibition there is one photograph of a community of birds inhabiting a barren tree. Faceless unlike her portraits; their identity strengthens in numbers, coexisting among nature. With soft colors and a landscape view, the image insights peace, just like snow falling. Even in the stillness of the photo, there is life. As I take in the view, I find myself agreeing with Jeffreys in the thought “that the birds bring out the joy in people.”











Valerie McPhail

Valerie McPhail is a New York-based writer on things of style and artistic expression. She has a portfolio of writing for both fashion and art publications. Although she enjoys covering fashion news and supporting new designers, her favorite subject to explore is the experience of fashion and how life is communicated through clothing. She believes there is a lot to be said about this.