ox-e’en / Amanda Thomson

For several summers, I’ve stayed in a house in the middle of Abernethy Forest, in the Highlands of Scotland. Every morning I’d sit at a table and look out at the trees—birches before the swathes of Scots pines. Coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches and occasional siskins would fly in from the trees and a blackthorn hedge to feed from the niger seeds that were in a little metal cup on the window sill. So small and fleeting in the bigger landscape that was behind them, it took me ages to think to film them, to frame them in a way that that would put them front and centre, with their hurried breathing, the droplets of water on their breasts, their rapid wingbeats and incessant movements. These tiny birds. Coal tits weigh on average 8–10 grams, and later, when I walk with a bird ringer and see how he holds these birds in his hand, I see how delicate they are, how easily they could be broken.

Amanda Thomson is a visual artist and writer who teaches at the Glasgow School of Art. Her creative practice fuses traditional and digital printmaking techniques, photography, bookmaking, video and sound and creative non-fiction. A lot of her work—in art and writing—explores how we are located (and locate ourselves) in the world, nature, flora and fauna, and is often rooted in the highlands of Scotland. Her first book, A Scots Dictionary of Nature, was published by Saraband Books in 2018. You can find her website at www.passingplace.com, Instagram @ascotsdictionaryofnature
and Twitter @passingplace.