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

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.”