Tag Archives: Forest of Bowland

Wire bird sculptures

I’ve enjoyed experimenting with wire sculpture since I was 15, when I crafted a trio of chickens out of chicken wire and photographed them amongst our flock of hens, as part of my Higher Art project. Over the last year I’ve started creating things using wire again, as well as dabbling in ceramics and various other things. I think sometimes its just very refreshing to do something in a different way, in this case, I feel like I am drawing in 3D, creating something pleasingly tangible.

I’m working on a couple of herons at the moment, as well as my old favourites the chickens. As always, the legs are the hard bit, but i’m making progress and am quite pleased with how these are coming along. 

The herons are designed to be stood in a pond, should you so desire, I will post some pictures asap.

Headless chicken: sculpture in progress

Headless Chicken. My studio has resembled a macabre nativity scene in the last week.

Creatures spilling out of my studio

Creatures spilling out of my studio with my unimpressed dog in the background!

Silhouetted against a beautiful winter sunset -heron in progress.

Silhouetted against a beautiful winter sunset -heron in progress.

Herons on sticks

Herons on sticks! No legs yet but I wanted to see how the bodies were looking.

Scartin in the leaves. I love how they develop a character.

Scartin in the leaves. I love how they develop a character.

Fergus the cat upstaging the chickens

Fergus the cat upstaging the chickens

The Last Skydancer limited edition prints in aid of Birders Against Wildlife Crime

Limited edition prints are now available of my oil painting “The Last Skydancer”, which I painted earlier this year in memory of Hope and Sky, two young hen harriers who went missing, presumed shot, shortly after fledging from their nests on the Forest of Bowland. Following the recent news of a further five hen harriers missing in Bowland and elsewhere in Northern England, rendering them all but extinct in the country, I decided to try and raise some money to help tackle the illegal persecution of these beautiful birds. I’ve never seen a hen harrier except on the road signs around the Forest of Bowland. I would like to hope that this painting is mis-named, and that one day I will see a Skydancer swooping over the moors near where I live.

£16 from every print I sell will be donated to the campaign group Birders Against Wildlife Crime, to raise awareness of the plight of the hen harrier.

You can order a print of The Last Skydancer here. Please note that the prints are printed on demand, and delivery times are up to one month. Postage is free within the UK.

The Last Skydancer. Limited edition print

The Last Skydancer. Limited edition print

The Last Skydancer on show at Platform Gallery, Clitheroe

I’ve just crossed, or rather skirted around the snowy Forest of Bowland to deliver three paintings to the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe. They will be exhibited in “Creativity within the Beauty”, an exhibition of work by artists from across the region. The exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Forest Of Bowland being designated as an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I’m exhibiting three recent paintings. ‘The Last Skydancer’ is my most recent Bowland painting. I originally conceived it as a study of the mid-winter moorland, before the snow. I wanted to capture the beautiful shades of colour of the moorland, which has huge variety even on a dull day, (as most winter days are here!). I added in a hen harrier, or Skydancer, as they are sometimes called, afterwards.

I had been reading about the plight of this upland raptor which is now all but extinct in England due largely to persecution on grouse moors. Hen harriers love to eat grouse, so are shot by gamekeepers protecting grouse for the shooting season. The Forest of Bowland used to be a stronghold of the hen harrier, but in recent years their numbers have plummeted – from 15 pairs in 2005 to effective extinction by 2014.  Then last summer, their luck seemed to pick up slightly when following a two year absence where no hen harriers bred at all in England, the birds somewhat miraculously returned to the Bowland fells to nest. Under 24/7 survelliance by RSPB staff and volunteers, nine chicks were raised, a bumper crop of skydancers. But shortly after having fledged the nest two of the young birds, Sky and Hope, went missing. It is not known what happened to them. Their radio transmitters and bodies have never been found, and despite the offer of a £1000 reward, nobody has come forward with any information and no perpetrators have been identified.

Despite living on the edge of the Bowland Fells, the closest I have ever come to seeing a hen harrier is on the Forest of Bowland signs, so perhaps it is somewhat ‘cheating’ to paint one. Nonetheless, I painted this in memory of Hope and Sky, the young birds who went missing last autumn. I hope very much that this painting is mis-named and that one day I might see a live Skydancer gliding above the moorland.

There are also two other paintings that I’ve recently finished on display in the exhibition, ‘Sheep, Hawthornthwaite Fell’, as seen in the snowy late winter of 2013, and ‘Autumn Sky over Wyresdale’, which shows the view looking west from the little Bowland fell of Nicky Nook.

'Sheep, Hawthornthwaite Fell', Oil on board 89 x 89 cm

‘Sheep, Hawthornthwaite Fell’, Oil on board, 89 x 89 cm

'The Last Skydancer', Oil on board, 91 x 66 cm

‘The Last Skydancer’, Oil on board, 91 x 66 cm

 

'Autumn Sky over Wyresdale' Acrylic on board, 40 x 30 cm

‘Autumn Sky over Wyresdale’ Acrylic on board, 40 x 30 cm