Fresh From The Field — Bird Fancy by Fortyfive Design

1 year ago by

This Fresh From The Field features the National Library’s ‘Bird Fancy’ exhibition design by Fortyfive Design

If you have new or recent work that you would like to share in Fresh from the Field email Louise for details.



The Brief:

The brief for the National Library’s ‘Bird Fancy’ as with all good briefs was hatched over a sticky bun and a coffee. The exhibition was the idea of Peter Ireland, the manpower behind many of the National Library’s exhibitions. The title ‘Bird Fancy’ referencing both the keeping of birds and the exotic nature of the proposed exhibition selection. Originally planned for the Turnbull Gallery in the Alexander Turnbull Library, the plan was to shift it to the National Library’s smaller gallery, the Te Puna Foundation Gallery. The brief loosely started with work of three 18th and 19th Century bird artists, some quirky-as black and white photos of people with their birds, some dating all the way back to the 1860s, and a smattering of other random bird fancy material and ephemera. How to make all this vaguely related content sit happily together on a super tight budget was at the heart of the brief.



The Response:

The pieces of the puzzle were played with, some deleted, some added until the final version of Bird Fancy was created. The combination of what to put in and leave out and how to represent the content most effectively within a tight budget was central to our role as designers. The budget constraints required creative use of materials such as recycling existing frames, printing mats instead of cutting them and finding simple alternatives to bespoke framing.

The final exhibition has resulted in a gorgeous collection of reproduction bird illustrations by 18th and 19th-century artists William Ellis, George Raper, John Backhouse, and Gustavus von Tempsky, a wall of bird fancy photos that promise to delight and bemuse, and some interesting NZ bird ephemera from the 1940s. The icing on the cake was creating the 1.2 metre high exhibition title and displaying it prominently on a pastel blue wall.
A project like ‘Bird Fancy’ highlights what is awesome about exhibition design, big or small. It’s about starting with a rough idea and through collaboration whipping the rough into something beautiful. It’s the journey along the way as much as the end results that satisfy.



The Team:

Curators: Peter Ireland and Fiona Oliver, Alexander Turnbull Library
Designers: Liane McGee, Anna Vibrandt and Niki Chu
Printers: Fine art prints and panels by Picaflor Print, title by Printlink, Vinyl by Signsquad
Installation: Chris Cane


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