Jonathan Freemantle
LOVE SONG  (2020)
Birdhouse, speaker, wood, spray paint, oil paint
Commission for Ltd Ink Corporation - Safari of Sorts 2020


Birdhouse, speaker, wood, spray paint, oil paint

This artwork is concerned with the fragility of life, and the eternal hope for love. The birdhouse contains a small speaker, which plays the final recording of the last bird of and entire species, calling for its mate. The work is situated in front of a collection of bee-hives in an industrial area of Glasgow, UK.

The last Kauaʻi ʻōʻō bird was male, and his song was recorded for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and then given to me to use by the British Library Sound Archive. The male was recorded singing a mating call, to a female that would never come. He died in 1987.

These hopeful, sweet, bell-like tones were heard for the last time more than 20 years ago.

The Kauai ʻōʻō is a member of the extinct genus Moho within the extinct family Mohodae from the islands of Hawaii. The bird was endemic to the island of Kauai and was common in the subtropical forests of the island until the early twentieth century, when its decline began. The ʻōʻō bird’s beautiful yellow feathers were carefully plucked and used for plumes in royalty robes, capes and helmets in pre-European Hawaii.

Jonathan Freemantle was born in Cape Town in 1978. At 17, he was selected as one of the five students from around the world to study at St Oswald’s Academy in London, an intensive 5 year traditional training/apprenticeship in drawing, painting, sculpture and geometry.

Jonathan has since been involved in a number of projects. He has held solo exhibitions worldwide (London, Cape Town, Amsterdam & Edinburgh). In 2002 he set up and directed the painting department of The Art Academy in London. His work has been featured in a variety of publications in Europe, South Africa and in the UK. He wrote and illustrated a book, ‘Anatomy made simple for Artists’ published by Arcturus (UK) in 2004. His work is represented in collections worldwide including SAB Miller and the private collection of HRH the Prince of Wales.

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