Red listed birds in the UK – Art and a Book

Did you know that 67 birds in the UK are currently on the Red List for Conservation Concern? That’s 1 in 4 birds and includes birds that were widespread and abundant such as house sparrows, starlings and cuckoos that are now endangered.

I can’t remember when exactly I found this fact out but it is something I keep coming back to in my art practice. I guess I just can’t believe it. It seems to be down to many factors but sadly and predictably they are all to do with mankind and how we treat the environment.

When I first saw the list of birds I was drawn to the passerine or songbirds that were on the list – birds that we associate with seeing in our gardens and surrounding countryside. I identified 33 songbirds on the red list and have made pieces of work to highlight the plight of these 33 birds.

Bear the Scar features cyanotypes of 33 silhouettes of birds on a vintage opera score. The title is from 3 words in the opera that can be read in one of the silhouettes.

I also used the cyanotype process on wood to create 33 individual works, each depicting one songbird. I used wood as I wanted to reflect their environment and I like the way the image is almost but not quite there – are they disappearing or reappearing? It’s up to us.

The Lightness of Being is about all 67 birds. It is a cyanotype of 67 feathers divided into 4 sections to represent the fact that 1 in 4 birds are endangered and on the red list. The title reflects the precariousness of the situation these birds are in.

sixty seven white feathers on a blue background

I have since discovered an amazing book called Red Sixty Seven ‘A collection of words and art inspired by Britain’s most vulnerable birds’ curated by Kit Jewitt. It is a collaboration between 67 authors and 67 artists to raise funds to support conservation work to reverse the decline of these red listed birds. If you are interested in art, conservation, birds and/or writing then this book is an absolute must– even, as it says on the back cover, that it should not exist. Find out more about this book from the British Trust for Ornithology.