Inspired by Nature and Photography

Hello from Michael

Museums and galleries can be places of inspiration. Places that fill you with excitement about the idea of making or doing something for yourself. You look at what someone else has created, whether it was yesterday or 2000 years ago, and think ‘I’m going to have a go at that!’

This is what happened to me last week when, as part of my Visitor Services duties, I was assigned to the Ipswich Art School Gallery for a few hours. Currently showing in this elegant, Art Deco building is the ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016’ exhibition. It is a visual feast that fills you with a sense of awe at how vast, beautiful and inventive the natural world really is. Astounding images of extraordinary animals doing amazing things!

Inspired up by this visual extravaganza, I felt the urge to have a go myself. I should start  making plans… maybe a trek through the Andes or an expedition to the North Pole, I could beat my way through the Amazonian jungle or huddle in a hide on a tropical peninsula…

Plans were afoot, but soon reality reared it’s happy little head and a small voice said ‘You are a Trainee for Colchester + Ipswich Museums. You have Collections work on Monday, Training on Tuesday, Visitor Services on Saturday and Sunday, and more besides’. Quite right too!

Next day, as I was on Visitor Services duty in Ipswich Museum, I realised what I could do instead. A set of bird portraits! The Bird Gallery is full of very obliging models! Models that are accessible, that don’t hide under muddy bushes or keep you waiting for hours in the pouring rain, that don’t ruin your best shot because they won’t keep still or refuse to perch where you specifically want them to.

I only had the camera on my phone, which isn’t great, so my options were limited. This didn’t matter too much as the galleries were adequately lit and the taxidermists had created some lovely scenes for me to work with. Taking photographs makes you look closer at the colours and textures of the birds, their feathers and varying forms. You see so much more when you engage actively by photographing or drawing. Remember you can take photographs in the museum but NO FLASH!


This is why museums are such fabulous places. They give us all a chance to be inspired and then the opportunity to have a go! My efforts aren’t great as you can see, but more important is the fact that an exhibition excited me to try something I’d never done before and think creatively about how I could make it happen.

‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016’ is showing at Ipswich Art School Gallery until Sunday 15 January, whilst the birds in the Bird Gallery in Ipswich Museum or the Natural History Museum in Colchester are always around to quietly encourage you in your creative ambitions.

Have fun!


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