It's a story of loss. The loss of 50 species of bird that once lived and thrived in the city of Sydney. Urbanisation and redevelopment have driven them out; part of the lifeblood of a city gone forever.
The artwork is called, Forgotten Songs. In a beautifully imaginative way, the artwork is brought alive by recordings of each of those bird’s songs played throughout the day from weatherproof speakers in the base of some of the cages.
The recordings have been scheduled to play at appropriate times depending on whether the bird is diurnal or nocturnal. It's a graphic and emotive way to tell a story.
Modern architecture has almost wiped out the sparrow that nests in buildings with roof voids, crevices in walls or under eaves, all of which are missing in modern buildings. When I was growing up, our neighbourhood was alive with sparrows, blue wrens and Willy wagtails. I haven’t seen any of those birds for years.
And I see it everywhere as new homes and apartment blocks rise up all around me, land cleared of every tree and scrap of nature then a token garden added; the obligatory bit of greenery to tick the box. Buildings now cover so much of the block that there is little room for a garden and even less for trees.
We are methodically destroying the life force given to sustain us. Gardens are not just a thing of beauty or a pastime for those who like that sort of thing, but a vital living part of our environment. We were created to be a part of the natural world and it supplies all we need. That’s why getting our hands in the soil is so therapeutic and why walking in the bush or walking barefoot along the sand breathing in the salt air, is so invigorating.
It's a delicate dance, keeping the balance of nature in our lives and in our world. Never in my lifetime have I seen so much stress, obesity, autoimmune disease, cancer and depression as is evident today and I can’t help thinking it is largely our disconnect with nature and the ongoing destruction of the very cycle of life of which we were designed to be a part.
Lavender and rosemary are hardy, forgiving plants that need little tending and are wonderfully healing. I love a vase full of rosemary in my kitchen so I throw the leaves into lots of dishes and the stems grow roots in water providing economical plants!
I dig all my veggie peelings into a hole in the ground and watch the worms and microbes transform them into nutrient rich soil in a matter of weeks. That reminds me that life is a beautiful and delicate cycle and we have the privilege and responsibility to play our part. The benefits and rewards are endless, for us and for the environment.