Myself and Arbarus (Richard Dawson) have been delivering the Abirdabode Project for the last eight months. Funded by Oldham Arts Development, the project aims to bring art and nature together by building bird boxes using a variety of different creative techniques and skills.
We are currently working with a number of different groups in Oldham including the Dove Stone Youth Rangers, the Barrier Breakers, an Age UK older people’s group and the Grassroots Community Allotment Scheme in Failsworth.
We’re making lots of progress on the bird boxes which is good as deadlines are fast approaching – there’s an exhibition of them at Gallery Oldham in March and April. The exhibition opens on Saturday 14th March and will have all the bird boxes made during the project on show. Once the exhibition finishes, the bird boxes will be distributed to various communities, gardens, allotments and housing schemes around Oldham – get in touch if you’d like one for your community!
Most of these images are from Grassroots where we’ve been building a large-scale bird box for the exhibition!
One more thing… we’re doing a drop-in workshop at RSPB Dove Stone Reservoir on 22nd February. This is to celebrate National Nest Box Week (14th – 21st February) and to kick off the RSPB’s Discovery Sundays for 2015. We’ll be based at Ashway Gap (halfway round from the main car park) between 11am and 3pm – come and see us!
Over the last couple of weeks, myself and Richard Dawson (Arbarus) have been working on a series of creative workshops for our RSPB Ribble Rediscovered commission. Aimed at determining what wildlife and subjects should be included within the final pieces of sculpture, we worked with young people, the public and the brilliant RSPB volunteers making lots of brilliant artwork and chatting about the interesting wildlife that can be found on the Ribble Estuary, what the important and notable species are for the area and what lives in all that mud!
We did a special mud-dip workshop whereby we looked at the species that live in the mud and provide food for the thousands of birds that visit and live in the area. From this we created block prints of the hydrobia snails, crabs, rag worms and also the birds that eat them, making a brilliant frieze of artwork on brown paper.
We also rocked up to the 20 year anniversary event of the Ribble Discovery Centre and chatted to lots of knowledgeable people about the birds and wildlife found on the estuary. The three others artists involved in the commission were also there – Bryony Purvis, Rebecca Chesney and Sophy King.
Next job – design the final artwork ready for approval by the RSPB, the volunteers and steering group and Fylde Council…
Richard Dawson (Arbarus) and I have been lucky enough to win a commission to create some public art for the RSPB Ribble Reserve in Lytham St. Annes. Ribble Discovery Centre is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year and has commissioned five artists to create permanent art for the area surrounding the centre and Fairhaven Lake, which is sited next to the estuary.
The Ribble Estuary is the most important single river estuary in the UK and attracts over 270,00 birds each year, with some notable species being the Wigeon, the Dunlin and the Pink-Footed Goose.
Richard and I are going to create one feature piece of art and several smaller pieces that form part of a trail around Fairhaven Lake. These will all be in the format of a steel wing with cut-out elements providing information and silhouetted shapes. These will be decided in consultation with the public, RSPB volunteers and the Centre’s steering group at a number of workshops.
I’ll have some more photos from the first of our workshops (which is today) but in the meantime, here’s a view of the estuary, with my dog doing a spot of photo-bombing and Richard taking a proper photo on the left!
Our next workshop will be on Saturday 24th August at the Ribble Festival between 11am and 4pm. All the artists will be there to meet and discuss the proposed artwork.
At the weekend myself and Richard Dawson started our new art bird box project ‘abirdabode’. Over the next six months we will be running a series of workshops and creative activities for abirdabode; exploring urban and rural habitats, trying different art forms and making beautiful art bird boxes for our feathered friends in Oldham. We will be working closely with Oldham Arts Development and the RSPB to develop the project.
The project launched with a drop-in session at Festival Oldham where we invited members of the public to decorate a bird for the outside of our large-scale bird box. Despite the rain we had lots of visitors, all fascinated by the bird box and the mini-gallery inside showcasing the first art bird boxes and accompanied by local birdsong.
Find the abirdabode project here and keep an eye out for upcoming events.
Last week, myself and Richard Dawson spent a very wet Monday installing a memorial bench (Richard’s work) and then some withy bees (my work) for the RSPB up at Dove Stone Reservoir in Saddleworth.
Kate from the RSPB came along to help. Bonnie, one of her dogs, thought the best place by far to sit was on top of me, whilst I was keeping the base of the bench in place. At this point, I’m slightly worried that all the other dogs are going to think the same thing!
Last week myself and Richard Dawson spent a day at Dove Stone Reservoir installing the new RSPB Wayfinders. Made from solid oak, with CNC’d lettering and mosaic detail, the posts have been carefully designed and created to be sympathetic to the space at the same time as being useful! The mosaics all show flora and fauna found at Dove Stone and aim to inform visitors about local wildlife.
We had beautiful weather after a very wet Friday (nice soft ground) which made for a relatively easy installation, apart from the stones and the inaccessibility of some wayfinder sites by vehicle. Thanks to Sam and Joe who came and did some excellent hole digging and lumping of heavy things! And thanks to the lovely dog walker who supplied us with some wine gums in Binn Green car park.
Here are 18 of the completed mosaics for the RSPB way markers at Dove Stone Reservoir. The mosaics will be inserted into wooden fingerposts which are being made by Richard Dawson who has already created this wooden arch at the reservoir. The flora and fauna shown in the mosaics are all found at Dove Stone with the Peregrine Falcon and the Mountain Hare being particularly important to the site.
Here’s the first few mosaics for the RSPB signage. I’m using the double-indirect method so they’re currently just on brown paper. The hawker (dragonfly to you and me) has been reversed ready for a test cast into a small concrete slab. Apologies for the awful photos – forgot my camera today so these are from my phone…
Myself and Richard Dawson have been commissioned by the RSPB to create some way markers for Dovestone Reservoir in the Peak District. Each way marker will contain a small circular mosaic that depicts flora and fauna found in the area. I’m currently working on the drawings for the artwork but in the meantime here’s a mosaic of the RSPB logo which I did just to get me in the mood!