Leila Jeffreys, ‘Jeda’ Sooty Owl, 2014, fine art inkjet print on archival cotton rag paper, 112 x 89cm
“Prey is a celebration of what makes Australia special and is a reminder that one of our biggest assets soars in the skies above us.” – Leila Jeffreys, 2014
Leila Jeffreys has captured the personalities of Australian native birds of prey in her third series of photographic bird portraits, Prey. In this series we see many different birds of prey, some typically stern and formidable, while others reveal their vulnerable, shy, gentle and affectionate sides. These works fundamentally challenge the common perception of birds of prey as simply being severe, discerning predators.
Over a two year period, Jeffreys worked together with the carers of these creatures to develop this body of work. As the unsung heroes of conservation, the birds’ carers work on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of Australian native birds. Working closely with Paul Mander of Broadwings, a raptor training, rescue and conservation centre in Queensland, Jeffreys was able to meet and photograph many native birds of prey, each with their own personalities and quirks.
Prey introduces the viewer to a variety of colourful characters including Pepper, a gorgeous Southern Boobook Owl who was rescued and rehabilitated, yet continues to return to Broadwings every time she is released; Soren the Wedge-Tailed Eagle whose intimidating presence is used as part of a conservation programme to deter other species of birds from destroying property; a cheeky Kestrel called Bandit with a penchant for stealing tea bags; and a rescued Goshawk called Trinity, a victim of habitat destruction as a result of land clearing.
The oversized scale of the works allows the viewer to appreciate these intriguing creatures as equals. Staring into the eyes of a regal bird of prey, one begins to feel a deeper connection and understanding of the species. Jeffreys hopes this will ultimately lead to greater awareness for the conservation of these animals and their habitats.
“These birds are the sovereigns of the skies but they are also at the mercy of misfortune.” – Leila Jeffreys, 2014
Leila Jeffreys, ‘Bandit’ Nankeen Kestrel, 2014, fine art inkjet print on cotton rag archival paper, 112 x 89cm
Leila Jeffreys, ‘Duke’ Grass Owl, 2014, fine art inkjet print on archival cotton rag paper, 112 x 89cm
About the artist:
Leila Jeffreys (b. 1972, Papua New Guinea) was raised in Perth, Australia, however thanks to her very adventurous parents, spent much of her childhood travelling. This included time living in Nasrapur, India, a small village 140 kilometres south east of Mumbai and living with her family on a house boat in Kashmir, India. Jeffreys grew up surrounded by wildlife and forest, sparking her interest in the natural world.
Jeffreys went on to study photography as part of a bachelor of arts degree at Murdoch University and Curtin University in Perth. Jeffreys continued her studies in Sydney, completing an Advanced Certificate III in Photography from Ultimo TAFE College.
Jeffreys began documenting birds by way of photographic portraiture as a personal project in 2008. Her first series focused on the much loved family pets, budgerigars. A series of Australian native cockatoos followed in 2012. Jeffreys’ work has been exhibited widely throughout Australia, USA, Hong Kong and the UK.