New Leila Jeffreys exhibition: The wound is the place where the light enters

By Liz Ginis 6 October 2022
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Heralded for her intimate, fine art photography, Leila Jeffreys explores the fragility and strength of birds in her latest exhibition, ‘The wound is the place where the light enters’.

Renowned bird photographer Leila Jeffreys‘ new exhibition, ‘The wound is the place where the light enters’, is inspired by a line from a poem by Rumi (1207–1273).

“The poem speaks to the fact that pain reveals and helps us cherish what truly matters,” Leila says. “We can only mourn what we deeply love.

“The fires that tore through the east coast of Australia in the summer of 2019 gave rise to a moment of profound personal grief. I found myself turning inward.

“From this time on, I began dreaming up a new mythology, one in which living creatures develop mental wounds that appear as physical markings. I had photographed the ‘Bleeding-heart dove’ (pictured above) as part of my ‘Ornithurae’ series in 2017. I then set about creating an exhibition that focused on other birds with markings that appear to the human eye as wounds.

“These birds – which I feature in portraits, on branches and bonsai – have natural red markings; they appear to bleed, as if their bodies are manifesting the collective pain that is felt by this planet. Yet at the same time, they embrace their wounds with a spirit of openness and beauty.”

Related: Renowned bird photographer Leila Jeffreys dedicates new exhibition to the budgie

According to Leila, moments of intense personal pain have shown her, time and time again, that our wounds can actually be gifts in disguise.

“I believe that if we face the pain head-on, if we resist the urge to run from it – we can access deep inner knowledge. Pain can awaken us to the kindness of people, as well as a sense of awe in nature. It can help us deeply savour the overwhelming beauty of the everyday.

“There is so much insight and personal growth if we face and heal what hurts us the most. From that peaceful place we radiate kindness, generosity, compassion, bravery and humour – attributes that can ripple out and make
the world better.”

The exhibition opens at 6pm on Wednesday 12 October.

‘The wound is the place where the light enters’, Olsen Gallery Sydney, 12–29 October 2022.