“The Slender-billed curlew, Numenius tenuirostris, ‘the slim beak of the new moon’, is the world’s rarest birds.
It once bred in Siberia and wintered in the Mediterranean basin, passing through the wetlands and estuaries of Italy, Greece, the Balkans and Central Asia. Today, the Slender-billed curlew only exists as a rumour, a ghost species surrounded by unconfirmed sightings and speculation. The only certainty is that it now stands on the edge of extinction.
Birds are key environmental indicators. Their health or hardship has a message for us about the planet, and our future. What does the fate of the Slender-billed curlew mean for us and the natural world? What happened to it, and why?
Orison for a Curlew journeys through a fractured Europe in search of the Slender-billed curlew, following the bird’s migratory path on an odyssey that takes us into the lives of the men and women who have fought to save the landscapes to which the bird belongs.
This is a story of beauty, triumph and the struggles of conservation. It is a homage to a creature that may never be seen again.”
–Little Toller Books
Here is a review of it by the Independent.
Orison for a Curlew can be bought at Little Toller Books and Waterstones.
Call Of The Cuckoo
Spring exhibition at Potterton Books London,
93 Lower Sloane Street,
12th May-30th June 2015
In support of the charity Buglife
‘What would it mean to us if the Spring bringers stopped arriving?
If the great eternal migration machine started to go wrong, if trouble, serious trouble, got into the works, and the birds that for all our time as humans have come on their great journeys and announced that the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone, came no longer?
How much would it matter to us? How would we measure it, as a loss? It would not be immediately catastrophic, as the loss of bees would be catastrophic (for then much pollination would stop and swathes of agriculture would collapse). Life would go on. But what would it mean to our souls?
What strange exercise could we compare it to?
Would it be like the loss of rainbows?
Would it be like the loss of roses?
Would it be like the loss of rivers, of running water?
Would it be greater than that? Would it be like the loss of music?
Would it be like the loss of hope?
We ought to start working it out pretty soon, for the process has already begun.’
Michael McCarthy, ‘Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo‘
Winter 2014 exhibition at Potterton Books with Angela Harding, Alice Pattullo, Gail Brodholt, Paul Catherall and Beatrice Forshall
93 Lower Sloane Street
26th November-24th December 2014
The Black-throated Diver, or Arctic Loon, breeds on the lakes of Europe and Asia and flies south to winter at sea off sheltered coasts. It is a streamlined swimmer and can fish at depths of up to six metres, but walks awkwardly on land.
The nest is built by both male and female and is usually made of a heap of plant matter, sometimes mixed with mud and will occasionally float.
The habitat of the Arctic loon is under threat due to the increased acidity of the oceans, pollution, and the bird is often caught in nets in its coastal wintering grounds, where there are large fishing industries. In Sweden some sanctuaries have been created and in Scotland artificial nests have had some success.
This July I will be exhibiting with Alice Pattullo at Potterton Books London.
93 Lower Sloane Street, London, SW1W 8DA
Bittern, drypoint engraving