Jim Mullan’s “Vintage Bird Collection”

As I’ve probably mentioned before, too many years of education have left me with much better taste in art than I can ever afford. As a result, I’ve probably spent more money over the years on admission fees than on works of art. Luckily, screen prints and castings have made it possible to afford artwork I would never have been able to afford otherwise.

Occasionally, though, I find an “original piece” of art I want and can afford, like this small bird sculpture, my latest Port Townsend acquisition:

mechanical bird

A few years ago I probably would have waited to buy it, but at my age I don’t feel like I have that many years to make up my mind — and I don’t plan on taking my money with me. So, despite that fact that my savings are now largely invested in my Honda Element, I bought this on the spur of the moment, with hardly a look back.

If I’d had more savings, I would have probably bought a handful of them since I really had a hard time deciding which one I wanted. I could easily identify with the artist’s philosophy:

Sculptures by JIM MULLAN

The vintage bird collection, designed by Jim Mullan, was inspired by his fascination with birds and antique objects. The crows were used as hunting decoys in 30's and 40's and the smaller birds were carved in the 1950's. The original decoys were passed on to Jim in 1991 and just recently he has turned each one into an eclectic, one of a kind, piece of art. You can see Jim's lively sense of humor in each one of his creations.

Jim begins by hand painting each bird, and then adds a variety of vintage pieces when creating his sculptures. The unusual relics he uses, such as croquet balls, binoculars and old toys give each inspiring bird his own personality. Objects that were cast aside as useless are used in his designs to demonstrate the fragile balance between nature and industry.

The birds give life to to once forgotten pieces of yesterday. We invite the observer to find warmth, history, and humor in each and every bird sculpture.

But much as I agree with what Jim says here, their appeal to me goes much deeper than that. For instance, I know I bought this particular one because I was amused by the irony of the bird landing on the binoculars. The idea that you don’t really need to go birding to go birding has always appealed to me.

On another level, the bird’s mechanical aspects reminded me of Oz, a favorite childhood book and of Grimm’s or Anderson’s Fairy Tales where I first encountered a mechanical bird. Researching, I found “The Nightingale,” where the emperor becomes more intrigued with a mechanical nightingale then the real one.

I don’t think there’s any danger I will become more attracted to my mechanical bird than the ones I photograph, but I’m nearly as fond of this little guy as I am of the robin who shows up in my backyard every day.

8 thoughts on “Jim Mullan’s “Vintage Bird Collection”

  1. I, too, thought of The Emperor’s Nightingale right off the bat. An artist might sneer and call this approach “sentimentality,” but for me It is well nigh impossible to view art without sentiment. And what the hey — maybe old memories and associations are what make it more pleasurable in the long run. At any rate, I love your bird, Loren.

  2. I love it when the art work finds the right people. Can’t think of anyone more appropriate to be the custodian of this piece. KJM

  3. I just put one of these birds on layaway. Your blog entry made me feel like I wasn’t so crazy to splurge. Thanks! I hadn’t thought of the Hans Christian Anderson tale, but that is exactly how it feels to me. I recently broke a treasured glass bird that had been my mother’s. Within one day I came across this bird in a shop window. It felt like it was meant to be.

What do you think?