Bozeman, MT: Doring Press, 2019.
First printing. (63) pp., 20.5 x 30.5 inches (box, closed), 39 x 29.5 inches (book, open). Layout, design, and printing in archival inks on Asuka paper by the artist, in an edition of eight numbered and signed copies. Landscape photographs and annotations by Ian van Coller; bird photographs by Jose Castaño Hernandez, Aidan van Coller, and Ian van Coller; pencil and watercolor illustrations by Silvina Ospina Cardona. Each copy is accompanied by one of the eight original illustrations reproduced in the book. Bound in full cloth, in cloth-covered clamshell box, by Rory Sparks in Portland, Oregon. New. Item #4605
Growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa, Ian van Coller was a birdwatcher early on, and aspired to be a photographer of the natural world, like those whose images he saw in National Geographic. In the event, van Coller became a different kind of photographer, whose work documenting endangered environments around the world has found powerful expression in a series of very large format photographic artist's books.
In 2018, van Coller and companions traveled through the Colombian Andes, photographing birds and landscapes; returning to his home in Montana, he commissioned eight original illustrations of Colombian birds to accompany the photographs.
Colombia is home to more bird species than any other country—currently 1,958, almost twenty percent of all the species found on earth. The specimen windows in the pages of the book (meant to evoke Victorian curiosity cabinets, but also travel brochures and the viewing field of a spotting scope), show a multitude of both the common and the endangered, birds that prosper in cultivated gardens and those that survive only at the highest elevations of untouched forest. The trajectory through book roughly follows van Coller’s journey, from gardens, over kikuyu-covered pastures, to the tops of cloud forests draped in mist, and back down to the city edge where people and nature meet.
The large format of the volumes in this series changes the viewer’s relationship to the book; instead of being an object, it becomes an environment, fostering connection and concern. A passionate printmaker as well as a painstaking and consummate photographer, devoted to the form of the book, van Coller works in various and subtle ways to remind us of just how much we stand to lose by our environmental recklessness.
“The Birdwatcher is an offering of joy in defense of nature, a journey of self-reflection viewed through the wondrous landscapes of the central and western Andes of Colombia and the astounding birds that live there. It is made from my vantage as a tourist as well as an artist, a photographer and an amateur birdwatcher, long fascinated by the imagination of what I would find in this place of my dreams.”.