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Vol. 16 No. 1 (2022): Drawing and Loss

Drawing The Extinction Crisis

30 October 2020


‘Precarious Birds’ is an ongoing collaboration through which the authors ‘stay with the trouble’ of the  extinction crisis; engaging in creative practice to process our grief in response to critically endangered and extinct bird species. The project uses birds as an index – markers that point to the ecological, cultural and ethical dimensions of the extinction crisis more broadly. The collaborative aspect of the project involves thinking through deliberately slow processes of drawing, cross-stich and writing, as well as contextualising this creative practice with shared texts and conversations: with each other, as well as ecologists, historians, artists and nature writers. This paper frames the collaboration as an ‘expanded conversation’ and uses the unfolding creative processes in response to two birds – Passenger Pigeon and Laysan Duck — to demonstrate how processes of drawing and tracing open opportunities for us to understand the ‘entangled significance’ of individual species within the extinction crisis, and argue that through documenting and sharing our expanded conversations, processes and artworks, we contribute to cultural ‘archives of loss’, which foster collective cultural memory about precarious bird species.