We are often more interested in a leisurely stroll on the walkway along the Christina, taking turns at pushing Annecim's wheelchair and chatting as we admire the view, but more often than not, I hold everyone back by getting side tracked, indulging in photography. During my last visit, I noted a special exhibition of bird houses. Upon reading the attached explanations I learned that each was modelled after actual historic homes of Pennsylvania and Delaware. A brief-lived regret of not arriving there an hour earlier passed through my mind, but the hope of catching the magnificence of a setting sun might convey the sense of marvel I felt, replaced it. And for that brief instant, I thought I had fainted and floated up - well - up to the sky to admire those houses up closer.
My niece and I excused ourselves from the rest of the posse so that they would't wait for us, and with the promise of meeting them on their way back, my lovely accomplice and I indulged in photographing and recording information about these historic bird houses of Thomas F. Burke on display along the River Front Market of Wilmington. Burke and his father have been building custom designed homes in Delaware for twenty-five years. Today, his fine home building includes birds, and states so on his business cards.
A native of Delaware, Burke's close ties to Chadds Ford inspired his most ambitious latest project, pouring his energy into creating some of the iconic houses Andrew Wyeth painted in his best-known works. Some of these include the Kuerner’s farm, the John Chads house, and the N.C. Wyeth studio—as well as the Maine farmhouse depicted in Christina’s World.
I was touched not only by the craftsmanship and beauty of these birdhouses, but also the sentimentality and thought that went behind the concepts. Like all of Thomas F. Burke's birdhouses, “White Chapel” (above) was designed primarily to attract birds. What is not apparent to the viewer is the dual purpose of the bird house/mausoleum. There are actually two interior compartments accessed by separate doors on the rear of the birdhouse. The upper compartment serves as a haven for birds to nest while the lower compartment is reserved for the ashes of a dearly beloved bird lover.
The Chapel at the Big Bend resides on a hilltop overlooking the Brandywine River in Chadds Ford, PA.
Above, is an elegant structure designed and constructed by the renowned artist and conservationist George F. Weymouth. It's made of stone and wood, with hand-carved doors and wood windows which open to the elements.
This birdhouse below was inspired by a building in Night Sleeper, a 1979 painting by Andrew N. Wyeth. It is one of the three buildings which comprise the Wyeth compound, sitting on the bank of the Brandywine River, in Chadds Ford. Today, all the stucco is gone and all the stone work is exposed. In some paintings it's viewed as cold, bleak, and lonely; in others, as warm and friendly.
“There's always a fire burning in the Mill.” Andrew Wyeth
During our two hour outing of a mid December afternoon before the solstice, I was so grateful to capture this unique art for the birds in various lighting as the sun dwindled on the horizon, and the moon smiled down from a promising twilight sky.
Text and photgraphs © Füsun Atalay
Füsun Atalay ~ Copyright © Will of my Own - 2012