This exhibition’s takes its title from Charles Waterton’s book Wanderings in South America (1825), a treatise that includes advice on taxidermy, a field in which Waterton was an expert. He writes: “You must possess a Promethean boldness and bring down fire and animation, as it were, to your preserved specimen.” When visual artist Nikola Irmer discovered cupboard after cupboard of stuffed birds, in the Berlin Natural History Museum she followed Waterton’s advice in her approach to painting them. In the process she has produced quite remarkable group portraits of the birds, often in dialogue with one another, imbuing some with a quirky humour, others with gravitas, some with ferocity and others with sheer nonchalance.

L’attitude de repos (above), in oil on linen, is a large portrait of 19 birds: each poised to tell its own story, and displaying personality and plumage. Only the perches and stands on which they are fixed serve to remind us that they are long dead and not animate interactive beings.

In Superior Variety Irmer uses thin oil on paper to create a picture that moves swiftly from the representation in the foreground — one bird using its body to dominate another — into an abstract background that disintegrates into a complexity of blood-red brush-strokes.

Andrew Hazelden’s tin-glazed earthenware accompanies the exhibition, and there is a strong creative bond between the two. Indeed, Hazelden’s series of Harvest Jugs were actually created in response to Irmer’s work. These impressive thrown jugs refer back both to the practical purpose for which they were originally created, and to the lusterware of the Arts and Crafts Movement and William de Morgan, while retaining their own strong personality and providing a fresh modern take on the medium.

The exhibition is at Hemingwayart, Cassington. Thursday to Sunday afternoons until November 6.