This week, photographic artist Leila Jeffreys unveiled her first public, outdoor photography exhibition. In distinctly different surrounds to her last showcase, opening in New York in October (it runs until November 12th!), Leila’s ‘QBE MUSE @ Taronga’ presents 10 of her spectacular bird portraits, on two-metres high canvases set among the lush ‘habitats’ of Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. ‘The larger the bird, the smaller we become… I like that,’ says Leila. ‘Let’s flip the world over and let them dominate us for a change!’
The artist was contacted by Elle Bombonato, manager of the Animal Presentation Precinct at the Zoo’s Wildlife, Conservation and Science department, to work on an experience to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Zoo’s QBE Free Flight Bird Show, and the pair immediately clicked. ‘I get so excited when I meet people that are passionate about wildlife, and the staff at Taronga have a dedication that is second to none,’ says Leila. ‘It was an exciting experience for me as I got to go behind the scenes to see some of the conservation programs they are running; I fed off that energy and the fact that we all just wanted to do something special together for the birds.’
Elle believes Leila’s 10 artful images will change the way we view birds forever, and hopes the works will encourage meaningful conversation about nature and wildlife conservation. ‘There are so many ways a camera can extend our ability to perceive the world,’ he explains. ‘Leila’s art leaves us with a legacy for future generations and captures an important moment that helps us celebrate and appreciate these incredible species.’
‘QBE MUSE @ Taronga’ champions avian beauty and diversity, with Leila including critically endangered species, such as the Regent Honeyeater and Plains-wanderer. Several of the actual birds are Taronga Zoo residents and were photographed on site, while the vast majority of all the species included can be found at the zoo, and the majestic Black Kite can even be witnessed in a Free Flight Show.
The photographer and environmentalist encourages people to view her portraits and then seek out the birds for a real-life encounter. ‘We mostly live in such urban areas and we’re losing our connection to wildlife,’ tells Leila. ‘This is a combination of art and conservation, which I hope helps us all connect with these exquisite beauties. Australia has incredible birds, and Taronga Zoo is a conservation leader.’
‘QBE MUSE @ Taronga’ by Leila Jeffreys
November 1st to 30th
Taronga Zoo, Sydney
Leila Jeffreys is represented by Olsen Gallery in Sydney. You can find out more about her work on her website, here, and her book ‘Birdland’ is available at the Taronga gift shop or through any good online book outlets.
Every two years Taronga awards funding to projects and programs that demonstrate conservation outcomes. Some of these projects have helped regenerate habitats, stop poaching and trafficking of wildlife and reduce conflict between communities across the globe. If you would like to make a donation in support of these vital efforts, please visit the website, here.