© Tim Mills 2009-2024

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  1. Discarded polystyrene takeaway trays are objects frequently spotted in the South West city of Plymouth. They are discovered in abundance littered throughout Union Street - a once grand thoroughfare yet now in decline - considered the main ‘entertainment district’ of the city with a host of bars, nightclubs and fast-food outlets.

    During the autumn of 2011 and through primary research in the field, it was observed that any remaining food in the abandoned takeaway trays formed the staple diet of many sea and urban birds.

    Based on a set of learnt behaviours and following a specific pecking order, lesser black-backed gulls, herring gulls, carrion crows, feral pigeons and pied wagtails had developed strategies for breaking into the trays by using their beaks to remove and consume left-over contents.

    The pecked trays were gathered from the area, with specimens undergoing a delicate cleaning process before being re-presented in the form of Photograms as a response to the social landscape in which humans and animals coexist.

    The Photograms record and describe through a somewhat detached and emotionless pursuit, underpinned with a technical attentiveness and referencing early forms of flora and fauna representation.

    The 1:1 scale photographic images contain many elements and objective attributes that could be characteristically deemed topographic; presented as a series, they form a study and survey of objects, revealing types that can be looked at collectively to reveal similarities and differences.

    Via the photographic technique deployed, the clinical and stark imagery, devoid of surface texture - aside from the graphically reproduced peck marks - allude to a forensic approach and examination of evidence with distinct archaeological presentations of specimens.

    The Photograms were later enlarged and installed back into Union Street upon an abandoned Victorian Theatre, home to a roost of feral pigeons some of whom may have been responsible for the original peck marks.