REVIEWS | Kitty Hauser on new Australian art in Sydney; Matt Stromberg evaluates LACMA’s experimental rehang; Tom Fleming on the life of John Craxton; Clare Bucknell on a study of women’s self-portraits; Glenn Adamson on a history of Western ceramics; Mark Francis on Richard Hamilton, Pop pioneer
PLUS | Xavier F. Salomon finds a lost Valadier masterpiece in Nicaragua; Isabella Smith visits imperial China through her TV screen; Samuel Reilly on Joan Eardley in Glasgow; Charles Holland on the post-war buildings of Raymond Erith; Thomas Marks on Daniel Spoerri’s tableaux of tables; and Robert O’Byrne picks over Apollo’s wartime diet
FEATURES | Stephen Patience explores the glamourous world of Noël Coward; Gillian Wearing interviewed by Martin Herbert; Daisy Hildyard on the beasts of Francis Bacon; Kirsten Tambling on Queen Mary’s contributions to the Royal Collection; Phillip Prodger considers the merits of colourising early photographs and film
REVIEWS | Linda Wolk-Simon on a new look for the Met’s Old Masters; Mark Pimlott on a survey of post-war museum design in Rotterdam; Morgan Falconer on Soviet ad men at MoMA; Peter Parker on 18th-century paintings of Udaipur; David Ekserdjian on five centuries of Raphael; Tanya Harrod on the letter-cutting of Ralph Beyer; Thomas Marks watches the Uffizi’s new cooking show
MARKET | Susan Moore previews March sales in London and New York and looks back at the winter season; Emma Crichton-Miller on collecting Judaica; Jo Lawson-Tancred on Art Dubai and other events not to miss
I WAS A COMPETITIVE BIRDER in high school. My family drove all around the countryside, so I spent a lot of time in the car, and I had to keep myself busy and project my brain somewhere. I would bring sketchbooks and field guides that I got from the library. I had started an Envirothon team at my school, to compete in the national decathlon pitting nerdy teens against each other in their knowledge of soil surveys, forestry, wildlife, and aquatic ecology.
I was the birding specialist. I learned more than two hundred birdsongs and birdcalls from CDs and from the field. I participated in other competitions where I would win binoculars and forty-pound bags of birdseed. I didn’t even have a bird feeder—I’d just become obsessed.
Unlike bird-watchers, birders often rely first on auditory cues to identify a species. You immediately know so much about the bird—its seasonal plumage, age, sex, if it’s making a courtship call or a warning call—from listening. The second thing you cultivate is an idea of where the call is coming from, so you can zero in on it. You develop a spatial awareness, so even with your eyes closed the woods become a vivid visual experience.
A steward of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania once took me out in a canoe to this extremely remote location to see a bald eagle’s ten-foot nest. Eagle populations had been devastated by the use of DDT. At the time, all nest sites had to be reported to the government and kept secret. In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the list of threatened and endangered species, and ever since, I would catch myself looking out for them whenever I’d pass a lake or river. Where I work, in upstate New York, I see bald eagles all the time. Two years ago, I found a nesting pair in Poughkeepsie near a waste-treatment plant on the Hudson River. I just spent time watching and drawing them. It was very unglamorous. They eat garbage. They’re like pigeons. The river freezes in the winter, and I have a vivid memory of watching this wet, bedraggled eagle on a chunk of ice.
Cy Gavin is an American artist that lives and works in New York. Gavin often incorporates unusual materials in his paintings such as tattoo ink, pink sand, diamonds, staples, Bermudiana seeds, and cremains. Gavin also works in sculpture, performance and video.