Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, is now home to a beautiful osprey sculpture commissioned as a beacon of hope, an emblem of the impact of lockdown on the community.
The sculpture, made by WildWire artist Paul Green, is of the osprey CJ7 that was seen worldwide by more than a million viewers during lockdown tuning in to the webcam on her nest overlooking Poole Harbour.
Part of the Birds of Poole Harbour charity’s Osprey Translocation Project to establish a breeding population of the magnificent birds of prey in Poole for the first time in 200 years, after returning to her nest in April CJ7 waited all spring and summer for the return of her mate. He never showed up but her lofty vigil captured the hearts and minds of viewers, many of whom were discovering birding for the first time.
“I was one of the thousands of local people for whom CJ7 became a symbol of hope in the darkest days of the lockdown – we were forced to live our lives remotely and somehow her story became our story,” explains Lighthouse Chief Executive Elspeth McBain.
During lockdown Lighthouse staff kept in touch at weekly Zoom meetings, sharing news and views and swapping notes about cultural highlights. It was in one of those meetings that a colleague shared the work of WildWire artist Paul Green as featured in Grayson Perry’s Art Club on C4. His work was exquisite and prompted Elspeth to find out more.
“Lighthouse was enormously grateful to receive emergency funding from Arts Council England that was awarded in part to provide work for artists who had lost their income in lockdown. It seemed obvious that Lighthouse should commission Paul to make this sculpture and I am absolutely thrilled – both personally and professionally – with what he has created. Everything about her is magical.”
The sculpture of CJ7 was made entirely freehand with no measurements. She sits on a piece of driftwood with a grey mullet made of wire for sustenance and now occupies pride of place on a plinth in the foyer at Lighthouse.
“I have absolutely loved working on CJ7,” says Paul Green, who works as a warden at RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk. “Some sculptures just feel right and this one worked from the very first outline to the final pieces of detail. I am so proud to have my work on show at Lighthouse and hope the people of Poole enjoy it as much as I have. Let’s hope we all see lots more of the real CJ7 as well when she returns next year – I know I’ll be looking out for her online.”