A Little Community is a site-specific installation responding to the dynamic tree-form architecture of the Queensland Children’s Hospital. A sculptural branch extends from each floor of the atrium, populated by young and adult Eclectus parrots, a species whose habitat extends from the Pacific to the North Queensland rainforest. I wanted to make an optimistic, colourful artwork and the beautiful markings of the Eclectus parrots offered great inspiration. The higher branches in the building are populated by male parrots, whose green colours offer camouflage in the tree foliage; below in the lower levels the female Eclectus like to search for berries, seeds and fruit, as part of their healthy high-fibre diet. Their markings range in the red colour spectrum.
Children are the most perceptive and astute audience for contemporary art. I wanted A Little Community to be readily accessible, speaking directly to a new generation of techno savvy, expert communicators. In some well-known desert island and pirate stories, the character of a parrot could be said to be a bit like a device for recording the adventure, a living iPod. “’Now that bird,’ Treasure Island’s Long John Silver says of his parrot Captain Flint, ‘is, maybe, two hundred years old… She’s sailed with England – the great Cap’n England, the pirate. She’s been at Madagascar, and at Malabar, and Surinam, and Providence, and Portobello… She was at the boarding of the Viceroy of the Indies out of Goa, she was, and to look at her you would think she was a baby.’”