Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lily Prints: The Lyrebird

We have over 365 silk-screens currently in use at the studio, so many strange and beautiful images to adorn clothing and homewares. I guess I shouldn't be surprised when I come across one of the images mentioned in some other context, but I'll admit I was surprised when reading The Guardian Weekly last night. I come across a headline that mentioned a bird that we have a silk-screen of: the Lyrebird. It was the first time I have heard anything about this quirky bird since watching a documentary on them 10 years ago.

Here's our silk-screen of the Lyrebird on a Boatneck Tee:

And here's the Guardian article that caught my eye:

Australia: lyrebirds give walkers pause for thought

An uncanny noise fills the eucalyptus forests of Kings Tableland

Wentworth falls australia
Heart of the Blue Mountains ... Wentworth Falls in the sprawling eucalyptus forest. Photograph: Photolibrary/Corbis

We are in the middle of a bushwalk in the eucalyptus forest of Kings Tableland, near Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, when our leader, Roger, stops.

"Listen," he says. We stop walking. We are outside a disused tuberculosis hospital that is thought by the locals to be haunted. But apart from the sound of dry leaves and branches cracking under our feet, all we can hear is a lawnmower. "Who on earth is mowing the grass up here?" asks Brendan, another walker.

"It's not a lawnmower … it's a lyrebird!" explains Roger, grinning.

We stare into the dark trees and we can just see the brown and grey tail feathers of the turkey-sized bird making all the noise.

"When the male wants a mate, he throws his head back, opens his mouth, kind of in the shape of a lyre, flutters his tail feathers and mimics all kinds of animals and machines," Roger whispers.

The lyrebird looks at us, turns its back and runs almost crouching into the undergrowth, beyond the hospital.

"They imitate everything – cockatoos or even dogs … and lawnmowers," Roger explains.

We pause and listen to the sounds of the bush. But no more lyrebird calls.

"Female lyrebirds have weird taste in men that's for sure," comments Lynne, another member of the group, opening sandwiches for lunch as we sit down on sandstone rocks in the hot sunshine.

"If my husband came home and started making all that racket I'd tell him where to go," she announces. We laugh as we unpack our rucksacks and sit, wiping sweat from our faces, as we look at the old Queen Victoria Hospital, partly in ruins.

"Do you really think this forest is haunted? Imagine all those TB patients sent out here from Sydney to get better or die way out here," ponders Lynne. "I wonder if the ones who didn't survive are buried here too?" she adds.

We think of the patients who were sent out here early last century to this sanitorium and we wonder as to their fates. We listen to the sound of the breeze in the tall blue gums, in this vast forest of the lyrebirds. At least the patients were in a beautiful place, though, we agree, looking up into blue clear sky, smelling the eucalypts all around us.

1 comment:

Erin said...

That's hilarious! I mean, the lawnmower part, not the TB...