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  • Writer's pictureHayley Roberts

The making of ‘The Woods Welcome’

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

There are some honeyeaters that flit about my house feeding on nectar. A few years ago one of them got trapped inside the house and after it eventually tired I scooped it up in my hands and set it free. After that I began to imagine a story where the little bird came back each day offering gifts.

Of course I grabbed my camera first.

I, of course, grabbed my camera first.

About a year later it happened again. Again it tired and again I set it free. But shortly after I heard some twittering at the front door. I went to look and found a family of honeyeaters flying about, tweeting like crazy and one flew right up to my face before flitting away. It probably meant nothing but I will forever believe that the family were trying to thank me for saving the trapped bird.

Not so long after, a magpie started hanging around the house. It seemed to have something stuck inside its mouth so it let me hand feed it, and sometimes I would throw food in the air and it would fly up to catch it. When I sat outside on the patio it would sit on the back of the chair opposite me. This continued for a week or so before it (hopefully) flew off to his next destination.

Image courtesy of my father

Image courtesy of my father

I mention these stories because, clearly, I am Dr Doolittle. (I am! And I won’t hear otherwise!)

This image, ‘The Woods Welcome’, is the second in the two part ‘Wildflower’ series, and follows on from ‘Where She Wanders‘. That sure is a lot of W’s.

In my first post about the series I mentioned how it was inspired by the urge to ‘get back to nature’ that many of us have. But it was also inspired by the nurturing instinct that humans have towards animals and our desire to humanise wild things.

I’d always intended on incorporating animals into my work but I first wanted to make sure my compositing skills were up to scratch and, let me tell you, cutting out animal fur is definitely a challenge (but still not hard as my damn curly hair). I’m currently working with this method which is the best way I’ve found to cut out hair/fur, although it’s unfortunately still not foolproof.

The image is primarily composed of photos from Japan. The deer was photographed at beautiful Miyajima, the rabbits at Ōkunoshima (an island full of rabbits!!!), the background bamboo scene at Tenryuji Temple gardens in Arashiyama and the flowers at Kyoto Botanical Gardens. I photographed myself in my yard and the bird at Notre Dame in France.

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