“High Society is the result of more than five years of planning and commitment; a pledge to making the impossible possible. It began when I noticed how a flock of native Australian budgerigars look like leaves on a tree. Looking closer I saw individuals, couples, and families – a secret High Society.”
Olsen Gruin is pleased to present High Society, an exhibition of new works by Australian photographic artist, Leila Jeffreys. Her second solo exhibition since 2017, High Society will be on view at Olsen Gruin from November 13, 2019 until January 6, 2020.
Revisiting the world of the Budgerigar – the subject of her first solo exhibition some nine years ago – Leila Jeffreys’ High Society includes her signature large format portraits and sees her exploring new territory. Working with over 300 budgerigars in a studio High Society reveals a beautiful society of birds through still photography and video art.
Acclaimed for her empathetic artistic vision and intuitive approach, Leila Jeffreys has again captured a vivid sense of personality in her feathered subjects. Each work forges an emotional and sympathetic bond with the audience as Leila Jeffreys establishes parallels between the ‘flock’ and our human concept of ‘community’; a commentary on our need to preserve wildlife societies and their homes.
“There exists a symbolic relationship between birds and trees,” says Leila Jeffreys. “Their survival depends on each other. We depend on them. High Society serves as a visual reminder to leave wild places for these other societies to enjoy, as well as our own.”
Leila Jeffreys' work is inspired by nature. She began documenting birds by way of photographic portraiture in 2008, working alongside conservationists, ornithologists and bird sanctuaries. Her works are difficult to achieve; they involve travel, long periods of waiting on her subjects, and many hours in post-production. Through her own patience, Leila is able to separate these wonderful creatures from their natural surroundings and photograph them with the highest degree of technical skill.
“(Leila’s) images are simultaneously serious and witty, gentle and impactful; technically, they are quite miraculous. Her rapport with her subjects, her technical ingenuity, her eye for colour, form and composition and her expertise in the processes of fine art photography combine to create singular works that have often – alas – been imitated but have never come close to being equalled.”
Dr Sarah Engledow, Historian & Curator - National Portrait Gallery of Australia