08 March 2009

Albatross


acrylic on canvas, 60.8cm x 30cm, 3-2009

These sea-birds have the largest wingspan of any bird on Earth.

I clearly remember, as a kid, watching them following our ship across the entire Indian Ocean (en route from Australia to Italy, via the Cape of Good Hope). [Albatrosses soar mainly in the Southern Ocean, and also North Pacific.] These amazing birds just seem to 'lean on the air', effortlessly. I distinctly remember the downward-pointing outer-sections of their wings when soaring/gliding. They spend incredible time-spans gliding with minimal expenditure of energy, every so often diving down to catch a fish, then returning very quickly to low-soaring mode (tending to soar close to the ocean). These birds regularly circumnavigate the globe (in the Great Southern Ocean).

19 of the 21 species of albatross known to exist are now threatened with extinction. The albatross nests usually on small remote oceanic islands. Introduced species have attacked eggs, chicks and nesting adults. Reductions in fish stocks largely due to over fishing and, also long-line fishing, have had devastating effects on the albatross.

14 comments:

PERUGINA ART said...

Hi Wayne, your love of la Natura is most evident here and in the post below titled ‘Pelicans’.
As a young child I can imagine how captivated you must have been to watch these birds so far out from shore with no apparent place to land, and what perhaps seemed an eternity suspended in the sky.
Your painting here showing this sense of awe and respect for all earthly inhabitants is elegante nella sua simplicita` - elegant in its simplicity.
The colours also reflective of this bird’s domain mainly the Southern Ocean – white, blue, red.
Simply brilliant.
Wayne, thank you for bringing to our attention this beautiful birds fight to remain with us forever suspended in our skies.
PG

wayne said...

Hi PG, thank you for your visionary word-picture of "la Natura ... birds ...an eternity suspended in the sky" ...and which i've endeavoured to figuratively depict here in the stylised form of the soaring albatross. Your English and Italian combined, communicate in words the qualities i sought to convey: sign, icon, and 'flag'. Lyrical yet powerful. The Great Southern Ocean is the only ocean on Earth where waves can circumnavigate the globe without encountering landmass. As such, the Southern Ocean also has (on averages) the largest waves of all Earth's oceans, and powerful winds. This is, as you say, the "domain" of the albatross.

In the realm of the Great Southern Ocean, where one might only expect to find fish, there soars the Great Albatross. I find such a thought quite inspiring.

Thank you again PG for your very kind feedback here :)
Best wishes,
wayne

W. K. Moore said...

Love the abstraction Wayne. Abstract visual representation and poetry are excellent avenues to a finer vibration of perception and understanding. The pattern makes me think of a flag - a place where the inhabitants might carry on their lives without the harpies of corrosive fear - a place where the word filigree is understood.

David Burge said...

Yes this reads Albatross in every dimension. One of the poetic symbols of good and bad luck(depending upon how one treats the Albatross)
I always think of Herman Melville's reference to the Albatross in "Moby Dick" where he devotes a chapter to making a point about the power of white in nature.

"Bethink thee of the albatross, whence come those clouds of spiritual wonderment and pale dread, in which that white phantom sails in all imaginations? Not Coleridge first threw that spell; but God's great, unflattering laureate, Nature."

Well done Wayne!
I painted a couple of albatross watercolours last year after re-reading Moby Dick.
I was struck with bit of a vision involving this bird whilst "meditating". The results of the painting were not up to the "vision" but I think i still have one of them at home .

David Burge said...

Oh I was going to add, re the threatening of the species. Perhaps the curse upon the albatross killer in the Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner has a great relevance to modern man's legacy to Nature.
That we shall wear the carcass of that great bird around our necks! Were Coleridge's words prophetic perhaps?
Chilling!

wayne said...

Hi ωκ Many thanks for such positive feedback on this recent work. It sprang totally from distant memories (crossing the Indian Ocean as mentioned) of these magnificent creatures. You kindly provide here 'ωκ word-pictures' imo (your wonderful colour-form-line metaphors) to 'fill-out' and extend the sign of the flag: "without the harpies of corrosive fear", and also, "a place where the word filigree is understood". The latter especially has me pondering layers of meaning of "filigree" - a beautiful-sounding word, itself, not unlike a bird... thank you again, Best wishes,
wayne

wayne said...

Hi David! Wow!! What an amazing couple of posts you have kindly added here to "Albatross"! The quote you selected from Moby Dick i find myself reading over and over:

"Bethink thee of the albatross, whence come those clouds of spiritual wonderment and pale dread, in which that white phantom sails in all imaginations? Not Coleridge first threw that spell; but God's great, unflattering laureate, Nature."

..these words you have quoted, resonate powerfully, the 'theatre of Nature' .... the passage culminating thunderously, in words, beyond "all imaginations", and before any poet's words, yet somehow turned inside-out: expressed through words themselves, warning, via poems, turns of phrase, and wings of albatross: of the strength and contra-basso spendour of "God's great, unflattering laureate, Nature".

The further Abatross connection in Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner commands yet further respect for this bird and, by inference, Nature.

Thank you David for the time you've taken in writing and sharing your insights, and of the albatross connections to literature... A most inspiring and thought-provoking
read David...
sincere thanks and best wishes,
wayne

David Burge said...

There's something about your work, and in that I include your ideas and writing that elucidates a subject. A fertile place for the imagination to germinate.
Thanks Wayne

wayne said...

Hi David, thank you so much for your kind additional comment ...

i do not have the words you have quoted... they are wonderful here on the albatross post and i thank you again for choosing this quote:

"Bethink thee of the albatross, whence come those clouds of spiritual wonderment and pale dread, in which that white phantom sails in all imaginations? Not Coleridge first threw that spell; but God's great, unflattering laureate, Nature."

What you wrote about Albert Namatjira on your own blog i found quite moving, and a very incisive word portrait to complement the poetry of your painting of the man.. (That's but one of many inspiring examples of your own work, whose scope/diversity i also admire.)

..thanks again David,
wayne

Nick said...

It's too tempting to say it's all been said, but it has so I am. The albatross is too grand a creature to be bothered with trifling details - properly, you divided up the space in a way that demonstrates how she looms over the earth and oceans, and I'll even risk derision to say the image could be stylized into an airline logo. Design is always in play no matter what you do, conscious or un(sub)conscience.

wayne said...

Hi Nick,
Thanks for your comment and sincere apologies for my delay replying..

The apparently simple shapes here and colour choices i found quite challenging to compose intuitively. The 'design' aspect in which the picture plane is flattened into generally hard-edged shapes and lines, yet retaining a brushy expressiveness to the edges and masses owes a lot to early twentieth century Post-Impressionist and Modernist art.

The albatross is majestic. And for me, the painting is more than a tribute to Modernist art. It is conceived as a tribute to this magnificent bird, the albatross.

cheers,
wayne

Schmidt said...

God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus! -
Why look'st thou so?" - With my crossbow
I shot the ALBATROSS.


So much symbolism in the Albatross - a lot about nature, and man's impact on nature. Must we shoot the albatross?

Schmidt

wayne said...

Hi Schmidt, Thank you for your strong literary excerpts that evoke not only a living sea winged by the honed-grandeur of the albatrosses, but also, one senses, an entire planet (Earth) resting upon its wing, and we upon it. Portentous oceans churn currents of wind and wave, furiously—yet still the albatross soars. Warning, knowing. Both Lighthouse and Keeper.
Thanks again,
Wayne

wayne said...

Hi again Schmidt,
i don't whether you saw all of the comments above (re the albatross), but if not, and for the interest of other readers, I thought I'd point out an interesting connection: the fact that both David Burge (see comments 4 & 5 above) and you saw resonances within literature. Regarding these connections, what springs to mind for me is the Buddhist proverb, (refer to rotating quotes roll in the blog -(see above).

Wayne