Image: Leila Jeffreys, The wound is the place where the light enters installation of ‘Temple’ – a 3 channel video artwork – with a reflective pool of water (2022) credit: @
fatografi_insta. Courtsey of MARS and the artist.
The wound is the place where the light enters was made in response to the devastating bushfires which ravaged the east coast of Australia over the summer of 2019-2020. The series bring Leila’s well-known and loved portraits of birds alongside Temple a largescale 3screen video pool installation on the main floor of the gallery. The series was shot on a Phase One Medium format camera. This camera system has the highest resolution, full frame media format sensor available, with a 150-megapixel back. Temple was created using a Phantom Flex camera, which shoots at 4k 1000 frames per second, which was operated by Chris Bryan who has worked with David Attenborough on the Planet Earth series. Temple was made in collaboration with Melvin J. Montalban. Leila’s work is printed with Warren Macris and his team, which often takes months to perfect the print.
Leila Jeffreys is an acclaimed photographic and video artist who lives in Sydney, Australia. She is best known for captivating images of birds from Australia and around the world that explore and subvert the traditions of portraiture. Her avian subjects are photographed at human scale with a startling attention to colour, line, form and composition. For Jeffreys, birds are both medium and message. Her practice highlights the connection between humans and other beings, the sense of interdependence between all living species and the profound refuge nature provides in a frantic world.
Increasingly, Jeffreys’ work as an artist is inextricable from her concerns as an environmentalist. Working in the tradition of artist-activists, Jeffreys’ arresting images are the result of years-long periods of research, exploration and investigation. Jeffreys explains, “these birds – which I feature in portraits, on branches and bonsai – have natural red markings; they appear to bleed, as if their bodies are manifesting the collective pain that is felt by this planet. Yet at the same time, they embrace their wounds with a spirit of openness and beauty”.
The artist collaborates with conservationists, ornithologists and sanctuaries around the world. Through Jeffreys’ gaze, seemingly minor details such as the shape of a cockatoo’s beak, the rise and fall of a budgerigar’s plumage and the curious expression that flits across the face of a hawk are freighted with meaning.
Jeffreys explains the meaning behind The wound is the place where the light enters is “we all experience emotional pain in our lifetime, if we face that pain head-on, if we resist the urge to run from it – we can access deep inner knowledge. Pain can awaken us to the kindness of people, as well as a sense of awe in nature. It can help us deeply savour the overwhelming beauty of the everyday…. There is so much insight and personal growth if we face and heal what hurts us the most. From that peaceful place we radiate kindness, generosity, compassion, bravery and humour – attributes that can ripple out and make the world better”.
Andy Dinan, Director of MARS Gallery said, “For many years I have followed the work of Leila Jeffreys. Now she has surpassed all of our dreams by sharing Australian birds internationally. It with great pleasure I present this magnificent body of work. The works speaks to deforestation and habitat loss and our future coexistence with nature” .
Leila Jeffreys, Glossy Sisters (2022) – Limited edition photograph on archival fibre