Bird People

Molly Morphew

Instagram: @peachymoe

Digital video, duration 6.05 minutes

The Bird People

Bird People is a series of twenty-one sculptures made of discarded possessions, later assembled, which Molly collected throughout the year on her weekly walks in London. The installation features a recorded text and a performance of the artist spreading her wings and migrating from the Barbican’s landmark pavements-in-the-sky to street level.

From cockatoos to pigeons, Molly is a keen birdwatcher. She believes that humans have a lot to learn from birds’ flight and seasonal migration, having flown away from her native Australia. Her installation features the flock of hybrid bird-human bodies she nested with during lockdown.

The earth-bound and heavy figures contrast with the perceived weightlessness of birds and invite us to reflect on the difficulty of leaving the comfort of our nests to start again, fly above and feel light. For both birds and humans, this flight can be a condition of survival or an escape to set free. Feather light yet dragging a heavy load of memories behind you.

Image grid captions:  L-R: First bird, 2020 Paper, umbrella runner, brake fluid expansion tank, shock absorber; Key (lover) Birds, 2020 Keys, table legs, brake pads; Party pooper bird, 2020. Balloons, string, steel, bottle cap; Bandit bird, 2020 Foam, stockings, expandable foam, wood, steel; Turf birds (1 & 2), 2020 Astro turf, paper, reflector, Cheese plant leaf, onion packaging, aluminium pipe, broom handle, anti roll link, wire; Yellow saddle beak bird, 2020 Sandbag, bike saddle, broom handle, leather; Blunt handle bird, 2020 Sandbag, blunt blade handle; Cordless hairdryer bird, 2020 Hairdryer, control arm; Bathroom tap bird, 2020 Bathroom tab, galvanised steel, foam; Green hoop bird, 2020; Plastic hoop, window regulator, washer, wood, acrylic paint; Various Treasure bird, 2020 TV antenna, paper, Iris’ lego block, string, ribbon, wire, coat hanger, foam, plastic, shoe spring, velvet, glass, balloon; Silver eyed black hoop bird, 2020 Basketball hoop, brake pad, table leg, concrete filled disk; Foam beak birds (1 & 2), 2020 Foam, washer, window regulator, chair back, duct tape; Umbrella with duct tape bird + tropical friend bird, 2020 Umbrella, wood, duct tape, acrylic paint, foam, bottle cap; Orange spring beak bird, 2020 Plastic tube, umbrella runner, spring, wood, rope, carpet; Orange long neck bird, 2020 Plastic tube, windscreen wiper, aluminium, coil pack, carpet; Green steel-eyed bird, 2020 Water pump, wood, foam, acrylic paint.