The colourful personality of birds sing out in new exhibition

Artists Smerdon & Lewis show 'Captive Companions' at Tweed Regional Gallery

Friday 14 February, 2020

Artists and friends Anne Smerdon and Corinne Lewis have brought together more than 30 highly-trained, free-flight birds of different species to document their personality and plumage for their new exhibition Captive Companions, opening at Tweed Regional Gallery on Friday 21 February 2020.

Gold Coast-based artist Anne Smerdon, a self-confessed 'bird-nerd' since childhood, is passionate about highlighting the need to meet the intellectual and emotional needs of birds in captivity, something that is often misunderstood and overlooked.

Her own pet birds, Vonnegut and Schiele are adored by over 170,000 fans across social media. For her work in this exhibition, Smerdon took reference from live birds that were free to fly and express themselves, which offered the rare opportunity to closely encounter and document the true personalities of each bird.

Meanwhile, Tweed artist Corrine Lewis focuses on the intimate bonds formed between highly-trained bird and dedicated human. Rejecting traditional portraiture, the females in Lewis's paintings are anonymous. Sumptuous garments emulate the vivid plumage of the birds they hold. Beyond the rich colours and elaborate decorative features akin to both, there exists a symbolic undertone. The exotic bird denotes the feminine, the intuitive and the multi-hued resonance that is nature itself. The women and their fellow feathered captives share much in common.

Ahead of the exhibition, both artists said that the intelligence of birds has been greatly underestimated and they have been thought of as 'easy pets'.

"Recent ornithological studies have shed light on just how intelligent birds actually are. In fact, some species of birds rival humans in certain aspects of their intelligence and social skills," Smerdon said.

"These findings challenge the way we as humans have been keeping pet birds in captivity and provides insight into how we can become more supportive and more ethical bird owners in the future," Lewis said
Gallery Director Susi Muddiman OAM said: "We are thrilled to be exhibiting the work of Anne and Corinne at the Gallery through the Community Access Exhibitions Program. While the friends have two very distinct practices, their work has come together to bring to light the incredible intelligence and personality of birds."

All are welcome to attend the opening celebrations on Friday 21 February from 6pm to 8pm DST, in conjunction with 'JamFactory ICON Clare Belfrage: A Measure of Time' and 'Judy Oakenfull: Floral Appreciation'.

On Sunday 23 February from 2pm to 3.30pm DST, join Anne and Corinne as they discuss the hilarious characters of some of the parrots they met, the obstacles they had to overcome in working with live, free-flight birds and the incredible lengths these bird owners go to ensure their birds are physically, emotionally and mentally healthy.

Anne will also launch her book 'Facebeak', a guide for bird owners based on her own experience and Corinne will launch 'Captive Companions: a behind the scenes look at the works of Anne Smerdon & Corinne Lewis'.