Wildlife artist Fiona Lumsden puts enormous amounts of time and effort into crafting and hand-painting intricate bird posters.
When interviewed recently Fiona said:
“After almost fifty years studying and painting Australian birds, I finally made it to the Island to enjoy your wonderful birds for the first time in 2016. It was, at the time, a healing visit to recover from a recent family tragedy…
I fell instantly in love with the Island and its birds. I had long known it was a wonderful place for bird lovers to visit. Way back in the ‘80s, I had been commissioned to draw illustrations of the endangered Woodhen for a Taronga Zoo exhibit. As I hadn’t been there then, it was very challenging to guess the poses for the birds. Time to fill in the knowledge gap…
Stepping out of the plane for the first time, below the towering mountains with ancient-eyed, flightless Woodhens fossicking along the airport road, it felt like stepping back into a Jurassic Park populated by feathery (if rather more diminutive) descendants of the dinosaurs.
After a lifetime of chasing birds in the wide-open spaces of mainland Australia, or getting ill on sea-birding ocean trips, it was delightfully easy to study Island forest birds or visit the bustling colonies of nesting seabirds on Lord Howe.
After learning my craft painting individual bird portraits, in recent years I have ‘spread my wings’ (so to speak) into painting complex regional bird ID posters. Lord Howe is my fourth. I squeeze as many local species as I can onto one watercolour page to try to inspire people to become better acquainted with their local birds and, hopefully, to look out for and look after the live ones in the field.
The Lord Howe Island poster took me three field visits and three intensive years in the studio to create. All the poses are made up initially from my own imagination and knowledge of the birds’ character. It allows a more aesthetic flow to the composition. This time I could fit on baby birds, nests, eggs, and plumage phases, with a more elaborate ID key.
I hope, in my own way, to add to the already wonderful natural history education resources on the Island. And your birds are so cooperative and charismatic!
Meet the artist
Fiona gave a talk and slide show as a small insight into how the poster was put together:
This launch was held at the museum on the 5th of April, and was attended by over 40 people who were enthralled to hear a talk by the artist Fiona Lumsden about the process taken to produce the beautiful art poster.
Then the audience adjourned to the History Gallery where Fiona had on display various drafts and preparation sketches for people to peruse. Fiona also hand-signed copies of the poster for people and chatted over a glass of wine provided by the museum shop.