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Press release

Birds of Barnes
Stunning bird photography by Justin de Villeneuve

27 August - 11 October 2006

A baby coot chick balancing on a water lily, a full-skirted black swan staring down the lens of a camera and a shot of Ronnie and Reggie (magpie geese) 'marching along like a couple of villains'. These are just some of the 70 stunning images in a new, photographic exhibition at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, by artist Justin de Villeneuve. This is Justin's first exhibition of bird photography, as he first made his name photographing models and rock stars such as Twiggy and David Bowie. The exhibition is free and opens on Sunday 27 August.

'Photographing birds is the best thing I've ever done,' said Justin. 'I was used to Vogue shoots, with fashion models. I've now realised that birds are much more enjoyable to work with - they don't talk back or charge extortionate rates!'

Justin's years of working closely with people has clearly influenced his current work. The character of each bird is evident, the body language distinct, whether it's a subtle tilt of the head or the energetic preening of wings. Tufted ducks are, according to Justin, the species that best reflects the 'constantly preening and posing' of fashion models.

The exhibition is the result of 18 months photographing birds at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's (WWT) London Wetland Centre in Barnes, west London.

'My doctor told me I needed more exercise, so I started taking a daily walk around the WWT London Wetland Centre,' said Justin. 'I take my camera everywhere, and so soon started snapping away at the birds I came across, although at first the only ones I could recognise were robins, blackbirds and sparrows.'

Many of Justin's favourite photographs are of everyday species. By capturing a certain light, Justin manages to turn familiar species such as ducks and geese into exquisite and exotically posed models.

Notes for editors

  • Justin de Villeneuve's archive of fashion and rock photography is available from Getty Images, at www.editorial.gettyimages.com. More information is available on his website www.justindevilleneuve.com
  • The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum is the Natural History Museum's sister museum in Tring, Hertfordshire. It opened in the late 1800s to house the collections of Lionel Walter, second Baron Rothschild. The Museum offers outstanding examples of nineteenth-century taxidermy at its very best and was bequeathed to the nation in 1938. It is now part of the Natural History Museum. The public galleries were modernised, but the fascinating character of the Museum has been retained.
  • The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) is the largest international wetland conservation charity in the UK and has more than 135,000 members worldwide. WWT's London Wetland Centre is a beautiful 105-acre wildlife reserve and visitor attraction in Barnes, west London. Acclaimed as the best urban site to watch wildlife in Europe, it supports a wealth of wetland wildlife, in particular wild birds that arrive in their thousands from around the globe. The London Wetland Centre attracts more than 180 different bird species each year, supports a breeding colony of endangered water voles, nine species of bat, over 400 species of moth and butterfly and more than half of all UK dragonfly and damselfly species. For more information about the work of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, please visit www.wwt.org.uk

Visitor information:
Location:  The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum,
Akeman Street, Tring, Herts, HP23 6AP
Dates:   27 August - 11 October 2006
Admission:   Free
Opening hours:  Monday to Saturday 10.00-17.00, Sunday 14.00-17.00, closed 24, 25 and 26 December.
Access:  Step-free access is limited to Gallery 1, the temporary exhibition gallery, the shop and Zebra Café. A virtual tour of the upper galleries of the Museum is available in the temporary exhibition gallery.
Visitor enquiries:  020 7942 6171
Website:   www.nhm.ac.uk/tring


For more information please contact:
Tel: 020 7942 5654
Email: press@nhm.ac.uk