Visual Arts

Overview

Of Bird and Beast

 

The collection celebrates humble animals, especially birds, whose beautiful nature and appearance remain undervalued in Britain and elsewhere.

The pigeon (a Columbidae like the dove) is often referred to as vermin and found in a pie on a pub menu. It is a charming bird with iridescent feathers in subtle shades of mauve and green. The courtship rituals between males and hens are elaborate and theatrical.

The pheasant (a Phaianidae like the peacock and partridge) has not enjoyed a genteel lifestyle in this country. Native to Asia and a-blaze with majestic colours, the pheasant was imported as a ‘game’ bird by the Romans around 900BC. Traditionally featured dead in country kitchen still-life paintings, I have depicted them as dignified subjects, stood like noblemen in front of their estates. Contrast this with the more common sight of them lying dead by the roadside or strung on a hunter’s wire after a shoot.

The partridge – like the female pheasant – has feathers of tawny browns in geometric shapes. Their humble charm and beauty is inspiring. Their plain and quiet demeanour is in contrast to the male birds, who display more colour and bravado. An interesting opposite to the human kingdom today perhaps?

Farmed animals have their lives cut short so that humans can eat them, despite the wealth of tasty and nutritious plant proteins available here in Britain. I feel protective over sheep in particular, with their gentle, nervous temperament and have painted them fine-featured and happy on the hillside.

Thor is based on a stuffed owl and embroidered in an Inuit style. Luna is a gentle and vocal young cat, who arrived on a wild winter night (I imagined) like a Russian Princess. Molly is the horse I ride. I have attempted to capture her wild beauty and spirit.

Greeting cards are available from Lighthouse reception and limited edition prints (starting at £40 each) are available to order.