Drypoint Etchings



Pat Beaton, March 31, 2014                                                         

I was given a copy of P. A. Taverner’s Birds of Canada a number of years ago. The book had been a favourite of a friend’s mother and is filled with notes and the dates of bird sightings going back to the 1930s. I became interested in the ways that wildlife is described and ordered. Taverner’s book begins with the Common Loon and finishes with the Snow Bunting.  The other bird guides that I have seen all follow the same order: they start with the waterfowl and move through to the small perching birds.

The question in my mind was: How would they look all together on one page as a disorderly flock of unrelated birds? I drew from books that mostly illustrated the birds as crisp, easy to identify profiles, with only the occasional flourish such as the swooping swallow.

I wanted the disorder among the birds on the printed page to parallel the disorder I was experiencing around me at the time. I was wrestling with my health and seeing grassroots movements having to wrestle with governments and businesses that have turned their backs on the future. Not much was making sense.

Then came the Geese. The elegant heads in a state of absurdity.

I decided to go have a look at these birds and I found grand geese: excellent parents, adaptable animals, and great defenders of territory. They have unique characters and can be identified by variations in their head shapes and in their white cheek patches.  They are an impressive species, well adapted to and thriving in our urban environment, safe from most predators. Some people think they are a menace, but I think they are friggin’ beautiful.

With heartfelt thanks to

Haruko Okano

Britannia Library

Bob MacIntyre

Alex Varty

The Burnaby Art Gallery – Open Print Studio

Rob Hack and Vanessa Lowe for the gift of the Birds of Canada

Study #9 - P A Taverner's Birds of Canada, drypoint etching and acrylic  15"x11"  collection of St. Paul's Hospital  
© Pat Beaton 2015

work in progress image - P.A. Taverner's Birds of Canada drypoint etching and acrylic  22" x 60"  © Pat Beaton 2015

detail of P.A. Taverner's Birds of Canada, collection of St. Paul's Hospital © Pat Beaton 2015