Hibernus IV

41 x 25cm, digital, 2011

It is all too easy to impute human emotions and thoughts to animals, but the behaviour of penguins often gives us cause to wonder what they might be sensing in their remote and frigid Antarctic environment.  In a land where they have few, if any, natural predators, and where the harsh conditions lead to a steady, and indeed gentle, existence, we suspect that they may observe their surroundings with more than a little element of instinctive puzzlement.

These two members of this group of flightless birds appear to observe the Sun as it hangs low on the horizon.  Their surroundings are bleak and hostile to our eyes – our own chances of survival here would be very limited.  But it looks as though a space of open water extends to one side – the natural home of these aquatic creatures where they can find food, and where their seemingly awkward stumbling on land is turned into the graceful  movements they demonstrate in waters across the Southern hemisphere.  Perhaps they can afford a few moments to watch the Sun, and possibly wonder what it might be, before returning to the place where they feel they really belong.

Text: Richard Hayes