In November 2010 I visited the Ulster Museum in Belfast and found myself standing by the Dodo exhibit and feeling a little sad. This moment stayed with me and on my next trip to Belfast, went back with some friends to have another look. This time an attendant noticed our interest and came over to talk to us and offer us some information. The first thing he told us was that there are now no complete examples of the bird left and that the models that you can see are made up of parts (mainly feathers) from other existing birds. At first I was a bit shocked and disappointed and felt a little cheated at not seeing an example of the real thing but then I started to think that this was a rather interesting discovery. Here I was standing in the natural history section of the museum which I thought of as scientific and dealing with ‘facts’ looking at an exhibit which is clearly subjective. As a photographer who has worked for many years on cultural projects which the academic establishment regards at best ‘subjective’ even if the work appears to belong in the area of sociology perhaps even anthropology and a lot of other things besides, I could sense a potential area of doubt.
This odd moment has started me thinking about the Dodo bird, it’s sad demise and how it continues to live on in our minds and acts as a reminder and warning to our insensitivity towards our fellow passengers on this seemingly fragile planet.
I have decided to celebrate and explore this phenomena further by visiting as many natural museums as possible around the world and to photograph the exhibits not as a variety of individual details but in context. I’m interested to see how the bird is used to talk not only about extinction but also related to the way we see the world today.
If you double click the images you can see an enlarged image with more detail. These files are free to copy and print – but please let me know if you have a commercial interest.