The seeds of this exhibition were sown in 2019, when artist and conservationist Jorji Gardener was invited to work with the South Australian Museum and Artlab Australia.
The task was to preserve the handwritten labels of 3,400 bird egg clutches of Captain Samuel Albert White (1870–1954) an enthusiastic ornithologist who lived in the area known as the Reedbeds, Fulham. The Reedbeds once extended from Glenelg to Port Adelaide, and inland as far as Torrensville. It was a rich ecosystem—a vast wetland dotted with woodlands and stands of River Redgums lining the Karrawirraparri.
The abundance of bird life which White documented at the Reedbeds has gone. Drainage of the Reedbeds, and loss of habitat due to urbanisation, means that today many of these birds have disappeared from the area.
Working on the collection, Jorji was deeply moved by the loss of these bird species and in 2020, together with her mother Viv Szekeres, artist and historian, they developed the idea to create an exhibition and illustrated notebook documenting birds from the White collection.
This project is a celebration of the beauty of our native bird life, their home, and our connection with nature and wild places.