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National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan*
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Admiring Nature: Bird Carving Exhibition
The 3rd Special Exhibition Gallery, Life Science Hall
July 14, 2016 – January 2, 2017

Art is man's nature; nature is God's art - Philip James Bailey -

Wood carving has probably been around about as long as man has been upon the earth. The history of bird carving from the wild has from the remotest ages when the North American Indians carved their fish-hooks or their pipe stems. In China, the history of wood carving can be traced as far back as the Neolithic Age, around 7,000 years ago. The earliest known wood carvings are wood-carved birds found in Liaoning Province.

Bird carving must focus on realism and extreme detail. Success is measured when the finished wood bird comes alive and tries to fly away. Thus, capturing the essence of bird life and releasing the spirit and personality of a wild bird out of a block of wood is the most challenging aspect for a wild bird carver. Placing the bird in a correct habitat adds further realism to the carving. That is, a master bird carver tries to capture that one special second of a bird’s life. It may be a pose of alertness or one that expresses total calm. It may be a pose where the bird is at a flower, or hiding in the branches, or singing to the sky. Anyway, they want us to see the bird as it lives in the wild and in the correct environment.

To provide education, to nurture an appreciation of the environment, and to study birds and their habitats using woodcarvings and other museum resources, the National Museum of Natural Science hosts the Admiring Nature: Bird Carving Exhibition run from July 14, 2016 through January 2, 2017. Nearly sixty stunning bird carvings of Mr. Lee Yi-rung and Mr. Huang Lin-ming go on display at the Museum’s 3rd special exhibition gallery.

Admiring Nature: Bird Carving ExhibitionAdmiring Nature: Bird Carving ExhibitionAdmiring Nature: Bird Carving ExhibitionAdmiring Nature: Bird Carving Exhibition

Lee and Huang, professional and top carvers with seven or eight years of bird carving, are the only two competition-level bird carvers in Taiwan. Their exquisitely detailed and skillfully rendered works redefine the idea of wildlife art, and have won them top awards at the Japan Bird Carving Association in 2015. Featuring some sixty bird carvings, the Admiring Nature exhibition presents their works of stunning realism and virtuosity such as Lee’s Lilac-breasted Roller and Huang’s Green-backed Heron. Lee and Huang create amazing sculptures out of wood. The textures and intricate detail in their work are truly astounding.

Admiring Nature: Bird Carving ExhibitionAdmiring Nature: Bird Carving Exhibition
Admiring Nature welcomes visitors with flocks of little-ringed plovers (Charadrius dubius) and black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus), which are all carved to the minutest detail by the student and teacher team of Er-shiu Junior High School in class, and instructed by Lee and Huang. In addition to showcasing bird carvings, this unique exhibition also celebrates Taiwan’s abundant bird life. Visitors are able to closely examine bird specimens they’ve only seen in books or glimpsed in the wild and try their hands at wood carving.

“Bird specimens are valuable for studies of plumage color in birds, but feather color may fade over time and not accurately reflect the colors of live birds,” says the exhibition organizer and Assistant Curator at the Museum’s Biology Department Chen Yen-chun, “We encourage our schools to make the most use of wood bird carving for education materials instead of real bird specimens.”

Wood carving is a relaxing and challenging art form that transforms a ‘wonder of nature’ into a collectable wood sculpture. Allow us to tour you through our Admiring Nature: Bird Carving Exhibition to learn about birds in detail from birds that cannot fly away, but look like they could. In conjunction with this exhibition, the National Museum of Natural Science has invited the two distinguished bird carvers for on-site demonstrations. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the two artists, hear about their process, and see them at work.

  • Admission is included in the Museum's gallery tickets.
  • Lee’s bird carving demonstration: Thursdays, 10-12am, during the exhibition period
  • Huang’s bird carving demonstration: Tuesdays, 2-4pm, during the exhibition period

Admiring Nature: Bird Carving Exhibition is made possible by the National Museum of Natural Science, and is proudly supported by Mr. Lee Yi-rung and Mr. Huang Lin-ming. Additional support is generously provided by Japan Bird Carving Association (JBCA), San-yi Duckdiy, Endemic Species Research Institute, and Observer Ecological Consultant Co., Ltd.