Beauty In The Ordinary

st-margarets-loch-edinburgh-carrie-sandersonOver the last few months I have been immersed in my creative work, in particular in my art practice. I have been observing and recording ordinary birds, such as gulls and pigeons.

Some people have questioned – out of interest and curiosity – why I chose these two types of birds. They are easy to dismiss, often viewed as pests, unwanted and shooed off.

That is exactly why I chose them! To find the beauty in these birds. To discover what it is that makes them unique and part of life – and that they have a right to be a part of life. I call it looking at the beauty in the ordinary, at what is taken for granted, or even what is outright dismissed.

I love birds anyway, and to be honest gulls and pigeons never bothered me. I felt mostly neutral about them.

Now, however, I feel differently. I adore them. I find them stunning, but also highly amusing. I could watch them for hours and hours. I also see a difference in their behaviours depending on what setting I encounter them in.

In more natural surroundings these birds appear to be calmer.

In the city centre, it’s a different story. I can see why some people call them pests because of these birds’ “bad” behaviour.

It made me think though – hasn’t their bad behaviour been influenced by us? Here in Edinburgh the rubbish bins line the streets, and some of them have no lids. Piles of bin bags can be spilling over, and that attracts the birds. They have learned this behaviour and adapted. They have found an easy way to find food. We have made it easy for them!

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But the “food” in these bins is generally not their natural food. If we are what we eat, then is it likely that birds are what they eat? If certain foods have an influence on our behaviours, then isn’t it likely it will have an influence on their behaviours and why they behave “bad”? Also, what is defined as “bad” bird behaviour anyway? Can we not allow them to be who they are? These are some of the things I’ve been contemplating as a result of studying the gulls and pigeons.

Anyway, I digress. Because what I really want to say is that these birds are beautiful. Look up close and find the beauty in their details: the plumage, the variety of colours especially of the feral pigeons/rock doves, the patterns, their anatomy.

When pigeons flock together in the sky, they fly in such a fantastical dynamic, swirling around like a fractal that reminds me of an unfolding fern. Their tails are feathered in a shape that reminds me of an Oriental folding hand fan. Sometimes I hear them making coo-cooing sounds whilst they’re sitting on the ledge outside my flat window.

It delights me.

Where do you find beauty in the ordinary? What delights you and makes you feel alive and connected to the beauty in/of this world? Please let me know in the comments below!

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