We tend to take birds for granted, in the landscape or in our neighbourhoods. The presence of birds communicates the health of a place. When they're gone, it's as though there's a hole in the sky, in the air, an absence of beauty and grace, and vivid chatter or haunting cries are replaced with eerie silence.
As an amateur naturalist and nature lover, Janine Burke, art historian and author, has spent many years observing birds. Nest: The Art of Birds is the story of her passion, a personal, wide-ranging and intimate book – part natural history, part folklore, part exploration of art and aesthetics, part memoir – that will appeal to all those who love nature, literature and art. What are nests if not art created by nature? If a nest is not art, how can we account for those exquisite, painstakingly constructed creations that are decorated, or woven through with feathers, or studded with objects of a particular colour or sheen? Nest: The Art of Birds reveals both the art and mystery found in nature and celebrates them with lyricism, insight and great affection.
In the tradition of Longitude, Cod or The Cello Suites, Nest: The Art of Birds is a short education that encompasses celebration and theory, investigation and memoir, the familiar and the revelatory – as surprising and enticing as any beautiful, intricately constructed nest.
Janine Burke is an art historian, biographer, novelist and curator. She is the author of the novels Second Sight and Company of Images, a groundbreaking series of books on the Heide circle, including Dear Sun, Joy Hester, Australian Gothic: A Life of Albert Tucker, and The Heart Garden: Sunday Reid and Heide. The Gods of Freud: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection, shortlisted for the 2007 NSW Premier's award for non-fiction, is the internationally acclaimed survey of Freud's personal collection.
"Enthalling. The most intelligent and entertaining book on birds I've ever read."
- Alex Miller