Taplin’s bird sculptures embody our longed for harmony with the natural world. His obsession with birds extends beyond their beauty to their endurance, intuition and symbolic loyalty. Mostly shorebirds of various species, each bird is composed to capture their specific habits and character. His simplified, stylised forms seem to breathe each bird’s very essence.
Sculpted from found driftwood, which he forages from coasts and estuaries around the world, Taplin’s birds are therefore enriched by previous lives. Weathered by time and the elements, each piece of wood bears marks that enhance his design, suggesting the outline of a wing or layers of plumage.
Taplin was born in the East End of London on the eve of World War Two and evacuated to Herefordshire before returning to Epping. After a near-lethal spell in the army, he careered through endless menial jobs, finding brief fame making hippy buckles in ‘Swinging London’ before hitting on his vocation by happy accident. It is now almost legend that, while caring for the ornamental waterfowl in Regent’s Park and training to become a Buddhist monk, the Bird Man began on a whim to whittle crude, decoy images of his charges in wood and never stopped.
Guy Taplin is formally represented by Messum’s in London.