We have several owls in Tasmania. The largest of the Australian Owls is the Masked Owl, Tyto novaehollandiae which I remember seeing once with my father when I was as a young child. The smallest of the Australian owls is the Australian owlet-nightjar, Aegotheles cristatus.
The Barn Owl, Tyto alba is a little smaller than the Masked Owl and very much more common and I remember seeing two of these birds at separate locations during a long and difficult drive between the West Coast and home during a heavy snowfall one night. They appeared suddenly in the headlights in near white-out conditions, giving me, on both occasions, quite a start...
The mellow comforting sounds of the Southern Boobook Owl was a fairly constant night time companion at our shack on Bruny Island when I was a child. I remember so clearly even after passing aeons, drifting off to sleep with the distant falling tone of the "more-pork" call of the birds wafting down from the forested hills around Adventure Bay. Their call gives these birds their common name of "mopoke".
The Tawny Frogmouth, Podargus strigoides , a fairly common bird hereabouts is often believed to be an owl due to it's similar nocturnal habits and appearance. It is in fact more related to the nightjars. Because of their habit of roosting low in a tree during the day with their wonderfully camouflaged plumage and their ability to remain motionless, one can often get into quite close proximity with these birds if you come across them in the bush...that is, if you actually see them!
The reason I was tempted to develop something in this style is due entirely to having rather immersed myself lately in a delightful little book loaned to me by my friend Ann, who purchased the little volume while living in Britain a while back.
It is called "Thomas Bewick Vignettes" and contains many engraved tail-pieces that Thomas Bewick produced as light relief while working on his major works, including the "General History of Quadrupeds" and "History of British Birds".
I have spend many of my recent wee small hours pouring over the tiny illustrations with my magnifying glass and marvelling at the detailed quality and sheer volume of the engravings the book contains. They show an amazing insight into country life and it has opened up an amazing array of research and interesting reading for me to follow up, things like the history of print making, paper making, woodcuts and much more the life of the man himself.
On page 117 one of these end pieces is of an owl...
There was an owl that lived in an oak,
the more he heard the less he spoke;
the less he spoke the more he heard,
O, if men were more like that wise old bird !
So far I have completed five of these challenges and I am happy in that I think I am beginning to see some improvement in both my colour management and in minimising the content a little...still have a way to go though...
Number five came from an old Folio Society diary image of a 1950's woman's legs walking along a pavement on Fifth Avenue in New York...the image reminded me so much of the years my sister and I attended Dressmaking, Tailoring and Fashion Design classes over several years at Hobart TAFE when our families were young...I remember the joy of arriving for a class and finding copies of Women's Wear Daily waiting for perusal, the sophistication of everything about the NY fashion world seemed so remote and oh so very desirable to engage with to a young married woman with a growing family and life commitments that anchored her so very firmly to her own little patch...
But I was pretty pleased with how this card ended up...my memory associations actually prompted me to use the combination of homemade stamps, colours and design on this one, probably the first time I have had such an intimate link with the piece I was trying to create.
It is a nice feeling...I had a similar feel with number four, my mind simply linked a YT video by Andrea Kidman, the German word she used on her ATC, along with the way many of my young Asian colleagues responded to my grandsons chubby cheeked baby photograph years ago...
One thing I am learning, slowly and thanks mainly to the Laly Mille workshop, is to take more time over what I am working on, let things evolve and link them more closely to my own associations...it has been a light bulb sort of moment, this.
We have had a chilly week here after the warmest October on record with snow falls pretty frequent at higher altitudes and the wind letting us know that winter is not too far behind us...a saying I remember from my childhood about Tasmanian weather is "If you don't like the weather, come back in five minutes..." is proving quite true at the moment...things are very changeable...today is sunny and warm, but the wind still has teeth!
See you soon,