Birds, Plants, and Animals by Mary McGrath – 3002 Audio Described
Birds, Plants, and Animals by Mary McGrath, Audio Tour Track #3002
Birds, Plants, and Animals, 1978, Mary McGrath, 1:12 scale
Birds, Plants and Animals, located in our museum's A Little Magic Theater Gallery. Created by Mary McGrath and collected over several years by our museum founders. The birds, animals and plants have been created in 1:12 scale, where one inch in miniature is equivalent to 12 inches in the full scale.
At waist height, resting on a wooden counter-top display pedestal, are two rectangular plexiglass display cases. These cases are identical in size, each measuring 43" in length, with a height of 7" and a depth of 6". Although relatively small, these two cases combined house over 60 miniature wildlife sculptures by artist Mary McGrath - 32 sculptures on the left and 30 sculptures on the right. These sculptures vary in size, with the largest of them being no more than 4" in height and the smallest of them being delicate enough to rest comfortably on a penny.
Mary McGrath is a master at capturing the natural world, gathering the lush forest into hand-sculpted fine-scale treasures, with every tender petal and fragile feather intact. Her ability to recreate flora and fauna in the one inch scale is unparalleled and highly sought after by collectors.
On display here are a variety of intricate vignettes of diverse habitats, brightly painted in the colors of summer, spring, winter and fall. They are stand-alone bundles of scenery, containing pieces of what would be a larger scene: a partial white-washed picket fence made of real wood, or a fallen tree trunk made of carved polymer clay, or a small pond made of crystal clear liquid resin which is now hard and smooth to the touch. Among the creatures depicted are chipmunks, raccoons, rabbits and skunks, and a dazzling variety of more than 20 species of wild birds, including cardinals, cranes, quail and owls. Together they form a parade of wildlife captured in striking poses: geese gliding on the water, pheasants hiding in the thicket, wrens in mid-flight - delicately balanced on nearly invisible wire. There are birds building nests, tending to their young, and perched among branches in still-life perfection. McGrath's flowers are just as numerous, with marigolds, roses, tulips, poinsettia, daffodils, morning glories and iris, just to name a few. You can almost smell the wet leaves and moss, or hear the crackle of fallen branches underfoot.
McGrath’s excellence in miniature art stems from her personal touch on every piece. No two are exactly alike, with every element made by hand. No part of her work is mass produced. These sculptures are incredibly light weight and extremely fragile. She created these birds and animals using polymer clay, which is then painstakingly painted by hand using the smallest paintbrush. Most of her plants are made of finely cut assembled paper which has also been hand-painted. Each sculpture is scientifically accurate: there is no plant out of place or season, nor are there animals shown together which would not naturally coexist. This strict obedience to accuracy has propelled McGrath's career: she is a Fellow in the International Guild of Miniature Artisans and a member of the Academy of Honor in the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts. Her small masterpieces can be found in many other dollhouses and roomboxes throughout our museum, as objects of art on miniature coffee tables and miniature fireplace mantles.