Birds need shelter   (2009/2016)

Wilmering’s project Birds need shelter was largely created during his work period in the Holsboer studio in Paris.

Birds need shelter is concerned with the duplicitous character of man’s dealings with nature. In this four-part series, birds and our relationship with them form the central subject. The series shows how man, through ‘abuse of power’, causes the extinction of certain species, how birds are hunted and how they should be properly served and eaten. However, the series also shows the possibilities of escape: the ‘egghouses’ and the birds that disappear into nature and are cut out and doubled by the artist. 


The structure of the project is defined by four imaginary personages, each of whom stands for a certain mentality: the gastronome, the scientist, the hunter and the artist. Around these characters, Wilmering has spent two years making four installations, which connect and refer to each other.


For this project Wilmering has realized more than a hundred drawings, coloured-in photos, designs and collages, and has made hundreds of photos, including many taken in the Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle.


Marieke Wiegel



“... One of the most beautiful bird books in the world comes very close to Wilmering's bird installation, in which the birds are served up by the hunter, the gastronome, the scientist and the artist. It is The Birds of America (1827-1838) by John James Audubon: the authoritative five-volume bird book in which 443 North American species are described and portrayed life-size. Today it is the world's most expensive book. For days, Audubon would conceal himself in the undergrowth, observing the birds and taking meticulous notes on how they flew, how they mated, and how they fed their young. This was inevitably followed by the aiming of a gun and the pulling of a trigger. For Audubon the hunter, it was a unique experience to feel the body while it was still warm, to observe it at close quarters, and to add to his drawing the most minute details of beak, feet, toes and the inner side of the wings. He used wires to bend the birds into natural poses, while a grid served as the background, ensuring that the animal was drawn in the correct proportions. Here we see the real Audubon at work. No doubt he lit a fire that same evening and, after grilling the plucked coot or wood stork, dined on his specimens. Many of these descriptions are accompanied by culinary tips: the yellow-billed cuckoo, for example, was at its most flavourful in the autumn, while the American scarlet rosefinch tasted like any other small bird. It is thanks to his direct contact with the dying animals that he is able to immerse himself in his models. He is the anatomist who dissects carcasses with his own teeth. Audubon was an empirical researcher who wound silver wire around a bird's leg, and a year later confirmed that some birds return to the spot where they emerged from the egg...”


Bert Sliggers


Hunter                          In the wild


other works


Gastronome        Nouvelle cuisine


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Scientist                                  Lost


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Artist                      The egghouses


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