Thanks to her very adventurous parents – photographic artist, birdwatcher, and environmentalist – Leila Jeffreys grew up surrounded by wildlife in Australia and overseas. They ignited a love of nature and a passion for conservation that have influenced her photographic work.
After noticing how unengaged people seemed to be with birds, she began working on a series of portrait sessions, hoping to portray birds in a way that displayed their incredible beauty and diversity, and to inspire a deeper concern for their well-being. Her first solo exhibition focused on budgies, the ubiquitous family pet. Then, for her next series, she worked alongside wildlife carers to create a series of portraits of wild cockatoos. This was followed by ‘Prey’, which focused on Australia’s hunting birds, and has since worked on numerous shows exhibited around the world.
“Through a unique combination of technical skill, ingenuity, patience and empathy, Leila creates objects of art that are luxurious visual pleasures in themselves. By abstracting her subjects from their accustomed context, she demands focus on form, composition and colour. Stark and warm, objective and celebratory at the same time, her photographs not only enhance our personal surroundings by their own decorative presence, but expand our joyous understanding of the world we inhabit, yes customarily see so incompletely in the short time allowed to us.”
– Dr Sarah Engledow, Historian (National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia)