Caliology was the name the Victorians gave to the past time of collecting birds nests, another part of their wide ranging passion for cataloguing and documenting the natural world.
At the time I started to think about casting a series of local bird’s nests, much my work had been tied up with somewhat functional pieces – unsurprisingly, perhaps, as I come from a background of architecture and furniture making.
I had found it hard to shake the habit of creating work that inherently had some sort of function to it, and while a bird’s nest is the ultimate functional object, I would just be showcasing this within a non-functional work.
I always saw the nests series as a testament to the genius of instinct. The variety and architecture is extraordinary, and the workmanship of the birds within their local environment makes each nest utterly unique. I worked entirely with abandoned nests, as they are mostly used for the hatchings of one year only. The seeming disorder of a crow’s loose pile of sticks contrasts greatly to the intricately woven moss, wool and fibres of a great tit. Blackbirds intriguingly incorporating man-made materials that they find lying around, like plastic bags and bits of twine. One friend gave me a green finch nest that was made in part with the clippings of her children’s red hair, and another included the wool and hair from the sheep and horses that live on the hill beside. Each nest unique to its maker and environment.