Stirred for a Bird
celebrating the bird through sculpture, prints and drawings
7th June - 23rd July 2010
Representations of the soul, potent symbols of war or emblems of peace, messengers of the Gods and intercessors between Man and the spirit world, birds can be expressions of ‘otherness’ yet are our everyday companions and markers of the seasons. Robins are the gardener’s companion, the song of the cuckoo heralds the spring, city pigeons are ever-present though barely noticed and the gathering of swallows on telephone wires signals the end of summer. Perhaps we identify with them because like us they are bipedal, yet birds are gifted with the power of flight and this sets them apart.
Birds have long fired the imagination of artists, poets and writers of all cultures. They appear in the earliest cave paintings of Cosquer and Lascaux; they play a prime role in many religions, ancient myths, traditional folktales and dance from around the world; their exotic forms and exquisite plumage inspired the artists who travelled the globe in the 17th and 18th centuries and in Western post-war painting and sculpture the bird became an expressive metaphor for peace and freedom.
They continue to inspire artists of all genres and this exhibition brings together a disparate group of sculptors who have all taken the bird as subject matter. The result is a glorious collection of styles and techniques, from Lynn Chadwick’s brooding, plane-like Bird IX to Nick Bibby’s detailed and uncannily accurate representation of an extinct Mascarene parrot, from Jon Buck’s joyful Flying Dove to Breon O’Casey’s archetypal Feeding Bird and Terence Coventry’s quintessential Blackbird Listening. Like Gerard Manley Hopkins, awestruck by the perfection of a hovering kestrel, each one of these artists has been ‘stirred for a bird’.
Photographs by Steve Russell