The fragile beauty of birds’ nests: Sharon Beals at TED2012

Posted by: Ben Lillie

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Artist Sharon Beals is captivated by the art form of nests, and she is fascinated by the industry, endeavor, and materials used to make them.

So she photographs them, making beautiful images like those shown above.  At TED2012 she breathed life and color into a meditative walk through the nests of an extraordinary array of different birds, from across the world. The Green Heron. The Bank Swallow. The Spotted Nightingale-thrush. The Brown Creeper. The Social Flycatcher. The Rock Sparrow. The Cuban Emerald. And many more.

To make these, she didn’t climb any trees, she shot them in science collections. Some of them are very old and carry reminders of the past: From 1895, made with sheeps wool. From 1906 in the Galapagos. In 1938 a Barn Swallow’s nest, shipped from occupied Manchuria wrapped in Japanese newspaper.

Now, nests are filled with modern objects. She collects the detritus of what we consume. Beals’s new project is to collect that, and photograph them, as reminders of what is happening.

“When I think of all of the beauty and wonder on this earth, I’m often moved to tears, but like many of you I am bereft at how much we are loosing. It is my hope that this will inspire others to protect and restore what we can.”

Comments (27)

  • gail chesler commented on Dec 15 2013

    I’m hoping to see Sharon Beals TED talk. Will it be posted? I hope so. Thanks, Gail Chesler

  • Pingback: Live a life to do with beauty: Shane Koyczan at TED2013 | LiMiT

  • sarah brooks commented on Sep 16 2012

    I have been hoping, since Sharon’s TED talk, to be able to voew it on line. Please post it. Thank you.

  • Atlasphere Pfau commented on Sep 11 2012

    As one who has followed the important work of Sharon Beals for many years, I urge you to please post her 7 minute talk, as soon as possible.

  • Mindy Pines commented on Sep 11 2012

    Will I ever get to see this presentation online? I’ve seen Sharon’s gorgeous book, but really want to hear her talk about her work and view her TED appearance. Thanks.

  • Caroline Grannan commented on Sep 11 2012

    I hope Sharon Beals’ TED talk will be posted soon.

  • Katrina Schissel commented on Sep 10 2012

    I’d love to see the video of Sharon Beale’s TED talk. Please post soon!!!!