Whistling for Owls by Max Ferguson is a story of two parts; image and text; France and London, memoir and fiction; truth and lies. This is the first book by the Oval press imprint which will focus on quiet publishing on the edges of photography, literature and research.
In Whistling for Owls, oblique photographs and sometimes-poetic texts are combined create a loose narrative of love, loss and longing. The photographs depict observed details and imperfections of both domesticity and nature—an apple core on the ground, a broken window, a cluttered kitchen and carefully arranged dead butterflies.
Each image is heavy with implied narrative and symbolism—ripe nature just on the cusp of turning and the abandoned and rusting evidence of human presence. It’s unclear if the images signal an awakening or decay—or both—or neither. The text contributes to the ambiguity with the introduction of the enigmatic figure of the birdwatcher never making clear if she is a passing encounter or a pivotal figure in the narrative.
‘I first met the birdwatcher as she climbed over a style someway from the house we were staying at. She seemed startled to see me – as if I shouldn’t have been there. Maybe I shouldn’t have.’