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Stuffed albatross (2013)

From Beelines – a commission for The New Hokksund Junior High School, in cooperation with Catrine Thorstensen

A stuffed Grey-headed Albatross is a part of the collection of The Zoological museum in Oslo. It was one out of two strange visitors to lake Fiskumvann in Buskerud, Norway, in 1837. Both were shot as soon as they were discovered. This is the only observation of Grey-headed Albatrosses in the Northern Hemisphere ever. The sighting has recently been declassified, since it is considered to be impossible for these birds to fly from their natural habitat near Antarctica to an inland lake in southern Norway. Did it get help? What actually happened remains a mystery.

 

We "solved" the mystery. "Rhyme of the stuffed albatross" tells what happened in 10 illustrated chapters. It is an epic cock-and-bull story playing around with references from litteratur, fine art, popular culture, and historical or scientific facts.


 

The story contain an underlying theme where the nature of vagrant birds is examined. Vagrant birds follow their own trajectories, opposed to their species natural patterns of movement. Their direction of travel makes no sense, and may be the result of a maladjusted mental compass. They end up off course, and will most likely struggle to survive. But occationally one of these accidental pioneers discover greener pastures, new feeding or bredding ground for the benefit of all their less eccentric fellow birds.


The work was a commission for a school situated near the lake where the albatrosses were killed. The project was a collaboration with Catrine Thostensen, we developed the idea together. I wrote most of the rhyme, while we both made the illustrations (the pencil drawings are done by Catrine T. Both of us did pen and ink-drawings).