Apollo, the Olympian god of music and poetry, was also the patron defender of herds and flocks, which makes Melbourne-based designer Vas Pittas idea to cast bird feeders in Apollo’s likeness, destined to be gradually eaten away by flocks of birds, poetically ironic.
The Apollo Bird Feeder was conceived as an alternative product to experiment with casting as a manufacturing process as well as an opportunity to modernize the bell-shaped product that pet stores are usually stocked with. Manufactured as part of a project for Pittas’ Industrial Design studies, it is cast with bird seeds and an animal friendly binding agent using a jacket and silicon molding process, blending traditional materials and manufacturing techniques with computer aided technologies.
A practical element of suburban garden décor, the bird feeder has been transformed by Vas Pittas into an urban art installation, reflecting Melbourne’s thriving street art scene as well as the artist’s preoccupations with concepts of urban living. The neoclassical form of Apollo’s bust was chosen both as a figurative symbol of public art - the kind that usually adorns prominent locations such as parliament houses, libraries, museums and theatres - as well as a nod to the artist’s Greek heritage. In fact, the figure of Apollo used for the project is a replica of a bust that his grandmother had at her house. But more than a source of fond childhood memories, the choice of this type of decorative artifact, which was ubiquitous in the Australian households of Greek immigrants in the 60s, 70s and 80s, is also an allusion to an identity that the immigrants sought to hold on to.
Placed on a pedestal in public location as an offering to the local avian population, the sculptures are akin to the offerings that ancient Greeks and Romans made in order to appease an angry deity. But whereas back then the ritual usually involved the sacrifice of an animal, in this case it's more about making amends for a nature that has been sacrificed in favor of urbanization. In luring displaced bird species back to the city, the Apollo Bird Feeder is in this sense a gesture of ecological activism, an offering, both literal and symbolic, to Mother Nature.