Their are two groups/individuals that have influenced the direction and depth of my work over the past 18 months.
Firstly, the members of the Contemporary Quilters West. I’ve been a member of this group for a couple of years now. They have challenged me to go deeper into the stories of the birds I create. They have gently encouraged me to experiment, telling a story through the backgrounds of my pieces.
This, I have to be honest was challenging at first but I now understand where they were trying to take me. When you become passionate about a story, you want to convey the emotion you feel through that piece and not just produce a ‘pretty picture’.
The second influence was an author and travel writer called Horatio Clare. Horatio’s book ‘A Single Swallow’ took me on a journey that I have not looked back from. This book inspired a piece I made last year called ‘A Swallows Tale’. It aimed to tell the story of the birds northern migration from South Africa to Wales.
I have recently read Horatio’s book ‘Orison for a Curlew’ – In Search of a bird on the edge of extinction, this book has become the inspiration for my next series of work. I read this wonderful book in an evening and look forward to telling you more about this bird and the threats it has faced in later blogs.
The Slender billed curlew, Numinous tenuirostris ‘the slim beak of the new moon’ is one of the world’s rarest birds, which due to how long ago it was last sighted may already be extinct. Below, a taxidermy example of the Slender billed Curlew.
A quick ink and pen sketch of the bird at a scale I hope to use him on the final piece.
Below, an entry in an old birding magazine about the bird.
Using literature from the internet and Horatio’s book I have started charting the birds main migratory route from Western Siberia, with key areas used for nesting, pit stops on route, finally stopping along the coast of north Africa.
This piece is requiring a great deal of planning and experimentation. Despite this being challenging I am loving the research thats involved and really hope that the final piece will tell a story of how fragile these birds lives are (one of so many species) because of mans careless and often selfish use of our planet.
The bulk of my work to date illustrates birds in great detail leaving the background very simple. Last year Chrissie Seager kindly spent a day with me explaining some of the many techniques available to add surface design and colour to fabrics. One of these techniques uses Golden Fluid Matte Medium. I am currently experimenting with this technique to transfer old map images to cloth.
Simple lino cut silhouettes of the curlew in flight will hopefully work on these images, illustrating the birds migratory route on the backing fabric.
I look forward to updating you on progress and possible technical disappointments on route to the final piece.
Thanks for reading.