night song

Sydney June 2014 (2 photos)

Forgotten Songs, a permanent street art installation by Michael Thomas Hill, commemorates fifty birds and their songs, once heard in central Sydney before they were gradually forced out of the city by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun and those of the nocturnal birds which inhabited the area sounding into the evening. At night, you may hear the Australian Owlet-nightjar, Powerful Owl, Southern Boobook, Barn Owl, Tawny Frogmouth and White-throated Nightjar.

I’d always wanted to photograph this artwork at night and I took a moment to do so when out photographing the Vivid Sydney festival recently.* It looks and feels different at night.**

night song 2

Listening to the calls and cries of the owls, I noticed shadows and silhouettes passing me by, oblivious to what was above their heads. The empty cages reminding us of that part of nature that has been lost. I looked up and blinked. Was that the silhouette of an owl I saw overhead? I blinked again and it was gone but the cry of the owls continued to echo in the lane.
Like the owls, I moved on: unseen and unnoticed.

*For easy reference, I’ve now created a separate page for my Vivid festival posts in my main menu above.

**I’ve photographed this artwork before during the day. My photo “Don’t forget to look up” won third place in the Digital Lightroom’s 4th competition on the theme of the urban landscape.

Photography Etcetera, Sony Etcetera

Cry of the owls


94 thoughts on “Cry of the owls

  1. I haven’t seen them: the last time I was in Angel Place was about a thousand years ago. The idea is WONDERFUL: but why there ? … Because of the concert hall, I suppose …
    Love the photos, LD.

  2. Thanks for the back story and for the superb black and white compositions. I just love the names of the owls, especially, the Southern Boobook (which, in contrast to it’s cousin the Northern Boobook, speaks with a US southern twang), and the White-throated Nightjar. BTW, your previous image of this cool location looks like a 1st place to me….just sayin’.

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  4. Congratulations!! I always thought your photos should win many competitions (especially with me as the jury 😀 :D)!
    Great post – this line really moved me: “The empty cages reminding us of that part of nature that has been lost.”

  5. Ohhh!!! It is absolutely wonderful!!! Love those shots…And love the way you transport us to that magical place….I can ever feel you moving like a shadow….
    I will have a look now to the other gallerie..
    My congratulations LD!!!

    • Thank you Sophie, and yes they are empty. Just the recorded birdsong to remind us.
      I have night photos of Spirits in the sky for later too. 🙂
      Have a wonderful day ahead too. 🙂

  6. Its amazing that i come back to wordpress after so long to find something about my fellow birds.. Its sad when they are caged and freedom deprived. On the other hand, its a way we make life around us.
    Its a beautiful picture with a sentimental story.
    Thanks for sharing it with us!

  7. This is such a striking installation–I forwarded your post to some birder/artist friends to enjoy.
    How can you bear to go to work? Your city offers such amazing art. The daily temptation to explore with a camera must be intense!

  8. Wonderful images. I love the texture of all the lines of the birdcages, hanging in the light. I almost never shoot at night and am feeling that I should try it out, having seen so many of your night pictures. Perhaps it’s because I associate evening time with hanging up the camera and heading out for a cocktail!

  9. interesting contrast (or manybe parallel?) between the cages and the people walking under them…
    it’s a very interesting installation and very nice to photograph… hope they keep it there until I make it to Sydney someday maybe 🙂 until then I’ll be enjoing your amazing work…
    ps. the daytime photo is just as incredible, Lignum 🙂

  10. I am not sure I want to see the colour one just yet, cause I love this nocturnal shot so much 😀 You have created a terrific atmosphere using black and white and shooting at night. I think it can’t stand out so beautifully during daytime, but I will have a look …. later.

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  12. When I first saw this I thought you had posted a picture of this before. I went looking for it, wasn’t successful, I should have just read on – haha, you gave a convenient link!! At least I know my memory is not as bad as I thought it was! 😉 And it does look very different at night from daytime.

    This a very unusual form of art, and really interesting, kind of thoughtful but also a little haunting, when you think those birds have been drive out by humans, and now humans would perhaps want them back.

    Is it mainly a shopping and eating area? I was just wondering, if there were people living there, what it would be like to hear those bird songs all the time? I’m sure I would pick up the lack of randomness in the calls and it would drive me crazy. Unless of course those bird calls are randomly released, that might be good, might actually create a perfect illusion that they are really there. I used to find real birdsong annoying in the early hours of the morning, but I love it now! 🙂

    • Thanks Suzy. It’s hard not to go there when I’m in the area. I’m sure that I’ll photograph it again some time in the future. 🙂

      It’s a lane way in the CBD near a Recital Hall. All offices and restaurants in this area; nothing residential I believe. I do wonder if the glass of the offices at birdcage level are sound proofed though. I think the view from the offices would be fantastic. I think most people would love to have a bit more nature in their cities.

  13. Congratulations on your well deserved placing in the competition Lignum! I adore both shots, somewhere in the dark beyond of the hanging cages the birds are enjoying their freedom, I hope.

The Wood Dragon is listening...

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