Friday, 1 May, 2020

The Feathers Project -
The Collection

See how our "Hope is the thing with feathers" gallery grows.
We are looking forward to receiving your contribution, too: mail@corneliafunke.com
Click on a picture and stroll through the Feathers exhibition.



Dear readers and not-readers! In these dark and strange times all the artists who so far visited my farm - the ones staying here and the ones who sadly cannot come right now - will share a little something to spread joy, hope, beauty, friendship ... in short, all the things that make this world still so beautiful. We call our project "Feathers" (inspired by Emily Dickinson's poem about hope). So, from now on we will post each week one of these "Feathers" on Instagram. If you want to share a little something, too, send it to my website and all together we will sing a song with what we create. Much love to you all from Malibu! Cornelia

Katja Thomson, Anthropology and Spanish student at University of Aberdeen: "I think it is very easy to become fixated on all the negative characteristics we as humans share. It can be hard not to despair in humanity, when we are witnessing the way humans exploit animals, the environment and one another. But we must never forget all the beautiful things we can achieve too. I believe there are just as many acts of compassion, love and care out there in the world. And keeping an open eye and heart for them is not just being naively optimistic - I think it is understanding and embracing the true meaning of humanity. Maybe this is something to remind yourself of once in a while, especially when the world feels the darkest."


Sara-Christin Richter, student at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences: "My contribution to our 'Hope is the thing with feathers project' is about my cat Senor, who has an escape plan."

Ayesha Gamiet, artist, illustrator and art educator from London: "Here is my contribution to our 'Hope is the thing with feathers' project. Last weekend I moved most of my studio home, where I will now be working indefinitely, at least until the coronavirus is under control. I'd always taken our garden for granted, just passing through on my way in and out of the house. But during this heavy and uncertain week I noticed the daffodils, and felt as though they were welcoming me home. Who can resist those cheery yellow faces."

Adolfo Córdova Ortiz, writer, journalist and researcher from Mexico City: "My contribution is a memory. We came up with the idea of doing a "Conversation Journal" that we will leave here on Cornelia's farm for all visitors to write ideas, phrases, paste images, anything related to the magical conversations we have here. Once, having lunch with Cornelia, she asked us what would our inner landscape be? It might have changed over time. I really loved that question and delve into my mind and remember one of my childhood that actually had feathers."


Sheila Hall from Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, artist and assistant coordinator for the Hay Festival Latin America: "I started off with a feather, because, as Emily Dickinson said in her poem, "hope is the thing with feathers". The feather moved into the eye, which for me, represents consciousness, and the possibility of growth. And then consciousness and hope were joined by birds, big and small, that can fly, that are free. The feather then became a pen, bringing Emily's words into play, to remind us that even in these strange times, even in the thick of the storm, we can still grow, we can still find freedom, and we should never loose hope, just as a bird never looses confidence in the power of its wings."

Ida from Spain: "Hello Cornelia, I saw your post on Instagram and I have a little offering for your Feathers project. It's been raining here and I love how the countryside feels afterwards, full of life and energy."


Anne Zaghow, student at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences: "This is my little contribution to the 'Hope is the thing with feathers project'. I got the idea for the collage while cuddling my cat. In the evening she often comes into my room meowing out loud, wanting me to follow her and to sit down on our stairway, so that she can lay down on my lap for a while. I enjoyed making it. It's quite a meditative work cutting out every single piece of paper, folding it and adding it to the collage. No time for bad thoughts."


Grace from Wales: "To me my contribution to the Feathers project means that we're all in this together. It's all a lot of mess and scribbles, but it's the same on each side, so we're all experiencing it in these dark times."


Helena Park, painter and print-maker from Somerset, England: "My contribution to the ‘Hope is the thing with feathers project’: Cloud-dancer leapt forward in hope, leaving behind him a trail of feathers..."

Kerstin Zilm German journalist and author, who lives in Los Angeles: "I tried to make sense of the world around me staring out the window watching birds in the tree in front of it. The world still does not make more sense, but at least I wrote a poem about a red chested finch, a long legged coyote and a big finned humpback whale. By the way, the photo shows a hummingbird nest in the plant under our porch roof."

What The Bird Knows

I wonder what the bird knows 

The red chested finch 

A cheerful troubadour

Jumping from branch to branch

In the tree with purple flowers 

That almost died ten years ago

Does the red chested finch miss

The humming chant to its a cappella song 

The constant buzz of nonstop traffic? 

Does air drift lighter through its feathers? 

Is it easier for the finch to breathe?

Does the red chested finch feel toxic droplets? 

Is rain heavier on its wings?

Is uncertainty an aroma it can smell?

Is compassion a scent it picks up 

With fluffy dandelion seeds?

I wonder what the wild dog knows

The long legged coyote

A solitary traveler

Roaming the neighborhood at night

On streets of black asphalt

With cracks, holes and haphazard patches

Does the long legged coyote miss 

The intruders on its path

Hikers in parks and mountain ranges?

Does it prowl empty shopping malls?

Is it easier for the coyote to find sleep in its den?

Does the long legged coyote feel lethal perspiration?

Is fog denser on its fur?

Is fear an aroma it can smell?

Is love a scent it picks up 

With rotten lemons from back yards?

I wonder what the whale knows

The big finned humpback

A mother with its young

Breaching in front of empty beaches

From underwater canyons

Filled with mangrove forests and eternal calm

Does the big finned humpback miss 

The boats coming out 

To watch it leap, twist, fall and splash?

Does the wave it breaks through have more power?

Is it easier for the whale to moan its song?

Does the big finned humpback glide through poisoned water?

Is kelp it swims in stained with parasites?

Is worry an aroma it can smell?

Is courage a scent it picks up 

With krill from the ocean’s face?

The red chested finch 

Collects twigs for its nest

From the tree with purple flowers

In front of my window

It stops

It turns its head

It looks at me

I wonder

Does the red chested finch wonder 

What I know?

Helene from Ostprignitz-Ruppin, Germany: "My photo shows one of those animals, which "in these dark and strange times make this world still so beautiful. (quote by Cornelia)" They bring me joy, and they are so funny!"

Mariela Sancari, photographer from Buenos Aires, Argentina: "My contribution to the Feathers project - This photograph is a testament to a cherished ritual we have: Sometimes we go to the beach in the afternoon to walk and breath some healing ocean air. There I take pictures for a project I am working on and my husband runs. A few days ago, we went to Point Dume and saw a large group of seagulls flying very close to us. It was a beautiful moment and I wanted to share it with all of you."

Reihaneh from Iran:"This is my contribution to the Feathers Project. The many lines in my drawing can be seen as all those difficulties, worries, hard days of our lives, but there is also hope (symbolized by the shapes in my painting). Hope helps us to go through the difficulties and hard times of life. With strong hope we can achieve our goals. Most of the times when I'm sad and angry, I go to my room and I listen to some music, and I start to stripe paper with rhythm. If you are angry or sad, you could do this, too. I'm sure it works and helps you to calm down."

Cornelia’s second contribution to the Feathers project: "The wings we use in these times..."

Isabel Abedi, author from Hamburg, Germany: "Here is my contribution for the Feathers project. This Dove-of-Peace was created by the artist Richard Hillinger. Her home is a primary school in Germany, but together with her 29 sisters she travels around the world, visiting places and people in all countries, such as Michail Gorbatschow, the Dalai Lama or Children in Kenia. She symbolizes peace and human rights, and I felt so honored to host her for a precious while in Hamburg, that I created a book with special memories of her visit. This photo I took on the trails in front of our Station House in Hamburg Bergedorf."

 Maya, born in Hamburg, studying in Freiburg, Germany: "I send a photo which maybe fits in with the (beautiful!) Feathers project! I took it some days ago while hiking in the Black Forest. All those rainbow paintings put a smile on my face. They were placed in the windows of a primary school. They made me think of that quote by Gandalf from 'The Hobbit': „I have found that it is the small everyday deed of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."

Ayesha Gamiet, artist, illustrator and art educator from London: "Here is my second contribution to our 'Hope is the thing with feathers' project. A few weeks ago, “taking a break” from my work would mean checking the news online, or scrolling through messages on my phone. Since working from my new garden studio at home I’m much more likely to take my break outside and notice the new blooms. This week, the tulips with their lush and heavy drooping heads caught my eye. As David Hockney wisely says, "Do remember they can’t cancel the spring”.


Inga from Hamburg, Germany: "Dear Cornelia, this is my little contribution for our beautiful and creative world ... in spite of everything. the title of my watercolour - 'In your Villa Villekulla creativity and imagination have no limits.' Kind regards and all the very best!"

Gabriel Schmitz, German painter, living and working in Barcelona, Spain: "My contribution to the Feathers project is a very quiet work of art. So that sitting tight may be a little easier ..." ('Femme assise' 2019, 162x112 cm, oil/canvas)

Adolfo Córdova Ortiz, writer, journalist and researcher from Mexico City: "My second contribution to 'Hope is the thing with feathers' is a story. One of the first things I did on our stay at Cornelia's farm this year was the reading of the English translation of my book, "The white dragon and other forgotten characters", which I have been waiting for a while. I was always intrigued by the potential stories of secondary characters. They don't find the treasure, bite into the enchanted apple, or peer into the wishing well. Their lives are far more open, they allow us to imagine whatever pasts and destinies we desire. Since they are not the heroes, they can spend half the day with their foreheads stuck to the ground, or devote hours and hours to preparing an invisible dinner, or explore snowy peaks with no objective other than to cultivate their sense of wonder. My book pays tribute to all minor and forgotten characters, and more especially to the genius of those authors who invented the winged Monkey King, the Lovely Fairy with Azure Hair, the Cheshire Cat, the Lost Boys, the Swan King and Falkor, the white Luckdragon. They created moments that were fleeting and yet, so authentic that, moved by my own fascination, I dared to expand them. It is with a lot of excitement that I share with you the first of the short stories and the illlustration by Riki Blanco."

The Birth of the Winged Monkey King

The fruit was like a small sun. The monkey had plucked it from the highest branch of the tree.
It was soft as young fur and cold as a mountain spring. The size of an orange, with the same sweet aroma, it shone like a yellowish star. The monkey gazed at it, his eyes wide open.
If there were howls, warnings, chatter from other creatures, he did not hear them. He only saw the fruit that blazed without blazing, that was cradled in his hands without burning, that stung his eyes without blinding. A fruit, perhaps more diamond than sun, more mineral than light; its veins like tiny rivers so crystal clear they ought to sate all hunger, all thirst, all of the desires that made the monkey's mouth water.
He had to bite into it. He wanted to eat it.
He could not bite into it. He wanted to swallow it whole.
He was going to devour it.
When he raised it to his mouth and sniffed at it, his pupils dilated so that they covered the entire insides of his eyes.
When he swallowed it, he was flooded by the delightful sensation of ripe nectar, the itch of the midday sun, the chill of the wind on the tops.
His dark fur started to gleam, and he took on a bluish blackness.
Like a crow.
Two orange halos illuminated the fine irises of his eyes, which resembled two eclipsed suns.
And he started to bellow.
The other monkeys did not know whether those cries were born of agony or pleasure. The monkey jumped from branch to branch; he wanted to join them, but when they saw his
shining fur and the eclipses in his eyes, they did not know him and ran away.
He felt something buried deep within his back.
He turned.
There was no one behind.
He felt another tear, beneath the shoulder.
He turned.
Nothing. He was alone.
No one had wounded him. It was yet another effect of the fruit, the sun, the diamond, the fiery sphere he had swallowed whole.
His bones twisted, snaps and groans were heard, but his back pained him only in two twin wounds, two cracks, two sores: two moist, black wings that sprouted from behind; larger
than his arms and legs, as blue-black as his fur.
And he was able to shake them, like he shook his arms.
And he felt they were strong, like his prehensile tail.
And when he leaped into the air, he never fell, ever again.
The world's first winged monkey.
They heard a great chattering and flapping of wings,
as the band of Winged Monkeys flew up to them.
The King bowed low before Dorothy, and asked, "What is your command?"
"We wish to go to the Emerald City," said the child, "and we have lost our way."
FRANK BAUM, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1900

Cornelia's third contribution: "My third thing with feathers - Well it is not - it is a flower from my Birds of Paradise plants - but I think it dreams of being a bird!"

Ayesha Gamiet, artist, illustrator and art educator from London: "My third contribution to the Feathers: As I was working this week, a brilliant flash of blue caught my eye! This beautiful kingfisher with his jewel-like feathers paid me a visit. I felt truly honoured. I carefully opened the studio blinds just a little further, and tried to take a sneaky photo. But he was too far away for my camera to focus. He sat on a little branch by the pond for a few minutes, allowing me to admire him, then dived in to pick up some fish for lunch. No lockdowns or panic buying for him! Nature carries on regardless. May we all experience such freedom, and may we learn to take just what we need from this earth - no more, and no less, just like the beautiful kingfisher. Hope truly is the thing with feathers."

Isabel Abedi, author from Hamburg, Germany: "My second contribution to the Feathers project. Walking along the river Elbe talking about Cornelia's farm, we found a thing with feathers..."

Reihaneh from Iran: "Here is my second contribution to the Feathers project. My mother has taken this picture. Just look at the clouds, they are beautiful. I wanted to share this image. Best wishes from Iran!"

Lunalia from UK: "I think we should all be kinder to each other, and it's the small things that matter."

Anne Zaghow, student at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences: "This is my second contribution to the Hope is the thing with feathers project. I love meadows, their grasses and flowers. Each individual plant may seem inconspicuous, but if you take a closer look, you can discover its delicate beauty. All together they make up a world of their own: A tangled, impenetrable jungle, full of life and secrets hidden between blades and stems. All those contributions to our Feathers project made me think of a meadow: So many ideas sprouting from that Dickinson quote. One thought nurtures another. Together they make up a beautiful meadow of ideas."


Miró Tiebe, art student at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences: "My first contribution to the 'Feathers'- In times like these, when you feel unsettled, there is the idea of turning into a strong animal that helps you get back on your feet."


Sara-Christin Richter, student at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences: "This is a little sketch and my third contribution for our project. During my walk the other day I observed some ducks... and a film about wild geese inspired me, too."


Helena Park, painter and print-maker from Somerset, England: "My second contribution to the Feathers - Picking away the clouds today and replacing them with blue."

Kerstin Zilm German journalist and author, who lives in Los Angeles: "My third "Feather" - The hummingbird on our back porch is growing. Took a picture when mama and papa were away for food or whatever hummingbird parents do ... Also wrote a poem to go with it."

A Spring To Remember

This spring
With the humming bird growing
In a nest on our back porch

This spring
With walks through our neighborhood
In the middle of the streets
Magnolias, gooseberries, poppies, sage
Works of art in open air
The first peace rose blossoming in the front yard
After days of California rain
Lemons picked from forbidden trees
Under a full moon

This spring
With the apple tart
The blueberry cake
The oatmeal raisin cookies
The lemon bundt loaf
And their aroma filling our house

This spring
With afternoons spent in the backyard
Hands sticky from orange juice
The fruit straight of the branch
A single hammer echoing through the air
An owl hooting
Dandelions going wild between grass.
And letting them
Weeds growing in every crack
Seeing all the cracks
And loving them

This spring
With the red bandana that used to be a blindfold
Covering my nose and mouth
The self-made disinfectant
From aloe vera harvested in our back yard
The cancelled trip to Hawaii
The government check that did not arrive
Exhausted doctors and caregivers
We thank hitting pots and pans at eight

This spring
With the longing
To have fish tacos and a wild berry mojito
While watching sail boats gliding home
The longing
To dance to a live band
Playing cumbia
The longing
To dive into waves

This spring
This spring of 2020.
This spring
I will remember

This spring
With a humming bird growing
In a nest on our back porch.

Cornelia's fourth "Thing with Feathers": On 28 March, my two artists in residence and I decided to have a Corona string adding another yarn for every day. So, the picture shows our first month. Quarantine days woven by Adolfo, Mariela and me. And by the wind. Every morning a new pattern awaits us. Oh, I forgot to mention the spider who catches the yarns with her webs sometimes."

Ayesha Gamiet, artist, illustrator and art educator from London: "My fourth 'Hope is the thing with feathers' - The daffodils I painted in week one have wilted, the tulips are sparse, and the kingfisher is long gone. But the blossoms are only just starting to open. As we enter week four, I am thinking of how this lockdown is renewing and recalibrating different areas of our lives. Much of what I’d planned to do this year has also 'wilted' in the face of the virus… teaching cancelled, travels no more, catching up with friends and family - simply not happening. But in spite of all this, other aspects of my life are 'blooming'. I love that working from home means my nieces come to visit me in my home studio every afternoon. I love that I have more time to cook, exercise, and spend with my immediate family. I love that I’ve renewed old friendships over the past few weeks. And my heart is warmed by the greater sense of community in our neighbourhood. Though the teaching and travels have stopped, I now have time to work on paintings for clients, and am just about to begin illustrating a new children’s book for a publisher keen to develop my own story ideas. It’s as though life is gently redirecting me along its path by reflecting what is wilting, and what is blooming… then asking, 'which way will you choose?'"


Gabriel Schmitz, German painter, living and working in Barcelona, Spain: "My second contribution to the Feathers project is a little bit of rhythm. What I look for in dance (the dynamic of movement in a static image) can also apply to music, only that on top of implying movement in a still image, it also implies sound in the midst of the inevitable silence of a painting. Striving for the impossible is a good goal inasmuch as it will keep you going as long as you last... ('Drummer Girl' 2020, 58x100cm, oil/canvas)"

Mariela Sancari, photographer from Buenos Aires, Argentina: "My second contribution to the Feathers project ..."

Helena Park, painter and print-maker from Somerset, England: "My third 'Feather': The swallows have arrived ... "


Helen, student of Communications Design from Aachen, Germany: "This is my contribution to 'Hope is the thing with feathers' - In these difficult times, it is important for me to find a new routine by familiar rituals, because familiarity, comfort and security protect me during this state of emergency. Listening to the audiobook about the little fairy "Potilla" again, the familiar voice takes me to the woods. I really hope that our forests and our planet can recover a bit due to the current situation."

Inga Krause, student at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences: "My contribution to the 'Hope is the thing with feathers project': I give you a smile in this difficult time. I am so much enjoying working with clay. Stay healthy and cheerful!"

Ayesha Gamiet, artist, illustrator and art educator from London: "This is my contribution to week five of 'Hope is the thing with feathers': I would love to say that I went out to watch the meteor shower ‪on Wednesday morning‬ (I didn’t, the peak was ‪around 3am‬), but let’s pretend I did. Knowing this profoundly beautiful phenomenon happened, whether I witnessed it or not, is enough to give me hope this week."

Kerstin Zilm, German journalist and author, who lives in Los Angeles: "My fourth 'Feather'- Baby hummingbird is learning to fly. Pretty good at it already, but taking off and landing seems to be scary."

Ayesha Gamiet, artist, illustrator and art educator from London: "My sixth contribution to the Feathers - As my nieces are mostly confined to playing in the garden, we thought it was a good time for the younger one to learn how to ride a bike. These illustrations were inspired by watching her wobble along, with big sister cheering her on and supporting her. The funny thing is, a few days after I made these sketches, my little niece was hobbling along on her bike when big sister came up from behind and gave her a great big PUSH, just like in the picture! It was just the boost my little niece needed to ride off into the sunset, never to wobble again, and now there is no stopping her! Every spare moment is spent racing along on that bike as though it’s all she’s done her entire life. It reminds me of that wonderful taste of freedom that our first real bike ride brings. And that sometimes, all we need is a little boost from a loved one to get us back on our feet, back on track."

Gabriel Schmitz, German painter, living and working in Barcelona, Spain:
"Sketchbook done during the first four weeks of the confinement at home in Barcelona, from March to early April 2020. With a beautiful original soundtrack by Sarah Schueddekopf: '
You made me see it all in a new and different light, many thanks for that!'
Find out more about Sarah's music at www.saxophone-art.de

Lena, singer and actress from Leipzig, Germany: "Dear Cornelia, dear Insa, this is my contribution to 'Hope is the thing with feathers' - My friend told me, that for fear of rejection she was not living the life she wanted to live, a life that her heart demands. Although her heart was growing, it was caught in an increasingly tighter cage. One day while dancing (which often feels like flying) she opted for freedom. The next morning, I drew this little sketch for her."

Ayesha Gamiet, artist, illustrator and art educator from London: "I made this painting to celebrate the month of Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting), which ended with the festival of Eid last Sunday, 24th of May (if you live in the northern hemisphere, if not, you may have celebrated on Monday instead). Ramadan begins and ends with the sighting of the new moon. We fast for one lunar month, abstaining from food and drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset. As a child I used to love waking up before dawn to have an early morning breakfast with my family before starting our day of fasting. It always felt like a secret late-night party, a midnight feast! As an adult, I’ll admit that despite being a mornings person, it’s difficult to clamber out of bed at 2.30 am to gulp down porridge and toast, but when the month is over I miss it terribly! I miss the calm solitude of early mornings, where we are encouraged to become more contemplative and meditative. I miss the joy of breaking fast each evening, savouring every flavour on my tongue. Traditionally we would share our evening meals with friends and family, and attend evening prayers at the mosque. Under lockdown, that wasn’t possible, but I know this will end, and one day we will be able to celebrate together once again. I think the secret in fasting, as in the lockdown, is to try and find a place of joy and peace, even in the challenge. The sun will set, and the long day will draw to a close. When this is over, we will celebrate together once again." 

Irene, freelance journalist, illustrator and author from Moscow: "It was last year I started this thing, an illustration to "The Wild Swans".  It was a choice I made during an illustration competition, to paint for Andersen's fairy tales. Only I never finished this one. I left it in the worst shape ever - a shape of 'almost done'. I took it a few times, thinking 'maybe now I should wrap it'. Every time it was a bit of leaves, crowns, hair, dress or something to finish after. I loved the story, definitely one about hope, love and faith. And I loved the wings on my piece. So I wanted it to be done. And had life with other pieces needing their time. Finding an Inkheart novel this autumn was a magical thing, truly. The book held me, helped me, nourished my heart with its inks. Now I'm under the spell of the second one. Pretty slow, I know. But these words are like balm and sometimes you need to take your meds few drops at a time and feel them blooming your insides a long after. If somehow you will see this letter I, one of the many, am happy to say Thank You, Cornelia. So, long story short, when I saw the Feathers project in instagram I told myself 'now or never'. And all the nettle, cobalt, turquoise sky, it all was done. And what's not done enough - it's always not enough, well, now I can leave it to be a perfect imperfection. And while the fairytale ends with swans turning to their human forms, this picture I wanted to fill with a freedom of fly. Grateful and happy, Irene"

Oola, 9 years old, from Connecticut: "My full name is Finoula Breen-Ryan, but everyone calls me Oola. This is my contribution to the Feathers Project. It’s called 'Of Birds and Words'."


The Curious Bookworm on 3 September, 2020

This is a wonderful project!!! It couldn't be better...

Oola on 14 July, 2020

These are all so amazing!

Debbie on 13 July, 2020

OK, I LOVE this project!!!!!!

Oola on 12 July, 2020


Reihaneh on 20 May, 2020

I sooo love this project

Lunalia on 14 April, 2020

It's growing by the day! This project is so uplifting !

BookHugger on 2 April, 2020

Wow, this is awesome!!