In Our Gallery with Melissa Christi

As an ornithologist and wildlife photographer Melissa Christi has always had a passion for birds and has captured the beauty of a mulga parrot in her latest work for the Here + Now exhibition at the Bundaberg Art Gallery.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?

I've been dabbling with art since I was a little girl.

My mother always encouraged me to try different mediums and over time I grew to love photography.

I kept wishing I could preserve these wonderful moments in time when I would see something fantastic on a walk, so mum bought me a little digital camera.

I now have a more robust Nikon DSLR that I drag with me everywhere, because you never know when you'll come across something fascinating. 

Tell us about your photo displayed by Bundaberg Regional Galleries as part of the Here + Now exhibition?

The image displayed at BRAG is called 'Narcissus'.

It's a play on the old myth of the boy who loved his reflection in a pond [so much] that he fell in and drowned.

In my image, we see a Mulga parrot poised on a branch lit gold by the setting sun, seemingly entranced by its reflection.

Of course, wildlife are not prone to such whimsies and what the parrot was doing was squeezing in a last drink before hurrying off to roost.

I love this blend of human imagination with the natural world, because I believe it brings us closer, opening up that connection to learning about our environment. 

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What was the inspiration behind this piece?

As an ornithologist and wildlife photographer, it's rare that I'll go out there with something specific in mind.

I prefer to immerse myself in the bush and observe the natural behaviours of the wildlife around me.

Sometimes you're lucky and witness something beautiful and unusual, sometimes you don't.

The key is understanding your environment and animal behaviour, and trying your best to be in the right place at the right time (and making sure your lens cap is off!). 

How long did it take you to capture this photo?

Some photos take hours, searching for the right light and composition.

Others are fleeting seconds, as I take a shot and hope for the best before the animal disappears from sight.

This one took a while as I had to wait quietly by a waterway and see what would visit, luckily the parrot landed in the perfect spot. 

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that I'm able to use photography as a tool for science communication.

It allows me to blend what I've learned about wildlife and their environment, with my passion for being in the great outdoors and deliver it in a nice little package for my audience.

I recognise that being able to explore Australia the way I do for fieldwork is a great privilege and being able to share that with others brings me joy.

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