1,000 Origami Starlings - Murmuration At Embassy Court

By Caroline Lewis | 08 May 2006
photo of origami birds suspended from the ceiling casting shadows on a white wall where a video of a sunset is being projected

The image Embassy Court residents see as they walk towards the front doors. © 24 Hour Museum

A beautiful phenomenon occurs around sunset at the West Pier. From a distance it could be clouds of smoke, but closer up it’s obvious that the billows are alive. The swarm of starlings that fly up and around in this curious way is called a murmuration.

The residents of modernist Embassy Court on Brighton seafront are very familiar with the murmuration, living as they do a stone’s throw from the pier (what’s left of it). So that is what artist Ingrid Plum took as her inspiration for an installation in the building’s foyer – part of the Brighton Festival Fringe 2006 running until May 28.

photo of lots of origami birds

We'll take Ingrid's word for it that there are 1,000. © 24 Hour Museum

Suspended from the ceiling in a formation facing the front doors are 1,000 origami birds. The shadows cast on the white walls by the muted light in the modernist corridor are beautiful, if static, unlike the real birds outside.

A sense of movement is provided by an audiovisual installation – a projection of the starlings at sunset and a sound recording in which you can make out the sound of the sea accompany the overhanging birds.

photo of a woman standing on a step ladder in front of suspended origami birds

Ingrid Plum on her step ladder. © 24 Hour Museum

“The minimalism within modernist architecture seems to strip away the fuss and show the beauty within simplicity,” says Ingrid. “Nature also … exposes the beauty within function. This is what led me to the idea of using the Japanese minimalism of origami to represent that simplicity and beauty, both in Embassy Court and its surroundings.”

Creating the origami flock was anything but simple – after the folding, the several hours spent on a stepladder were tiring, but worth it.

For those who would like to create something similar – perhaps on a smaller scale – in their own hallway, Ingrid will be leading origami workshops on Saturdays from 10am - 4pm.

Members of the public can see the installation from 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Saturday and on Sundays from 1pm to 4pm.

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