Monday, 8 September 2014

Stitching Extinction - Ghosts of Gone Birds

I had some seriously exciting news last week - so exciting that when I got the email I may have shrieked and jumped around a little bit!  I've been asked to take part in the Ghosts of Gone Birds Live Art Studio at The Forge in Camden as part of the Camden Migration Festival.  
I will be one of 11 artists spending a day each resurrecting as many extinct birds as I can - obviously my chosen medium is stitch.  In the words of the organisers...

"Resurrecting extinct birds can be hard work. And now you can see for yourself as we invite 11 very different artists to each dedicate a day to breathing creative life back into the birds we have lost.  But we’re not just setting up a special pop-up Ghosts studio for the artists in the Foundry Room upstairs at The Forge – we’re also adding a real old, weather-beaten bird hide from RSPB Coquet Island for visitors to use to quietly observe the artists at work. So this is your chance to see extinct birds resurrected before your very eyes. Eleven days. 11 artists. Working hard to create a new Ghosts Gallery of Gone Birds."

I feel pretty darn honoured to be selected as one of the artists for this event; as regular readers of this blog will know, the conservation of our feathered friends is a subject I feel rather passionate about.  I have been following the progress of the previous Ghosts of Gone Birds exhibitions for quite some time, and have been blown away by some of the amazing artworks that have been included.  If truth be told it is a little intimidating; the other 10 are "proper artists", and being on public view, albeit through a bird hide, will certainly put the pressure on!   

But what better reason to put myself out there than to raise the profile of species extinction?  Last week marked the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, with the death of the captive bird Martha.  A bird once ubiquitous across North America, accounting for a quarter of all the birds in the USA, within the course of a century the Passenger Pigeon went from the most abundant bird in the world to total extinction.  

Over the last week I have been researching the stories behind some of the 200+ avian extinctions since the 1500s.  And a sad set of stories they are, with both willful and neglectful circumstances leading to the loss of these species forever.  We humans really know how to rock the balance of a natural ecosystem, and now we as a species are better educated about the consequences of our actions, it is for us to make sure no more birds are added to that already too-long list.

My day at The Forge in Camden will be Friday 26th September, and I expect to be working from about 8am until 11pm.  So if you're in the area do pop in and take a look through the hide.  Or, if not my work will be displayed until Sunday 6th October, and there will be the other 10 artists to watch through the hide.  In the meantime you can expect a few more blog posts on this subject!!

Kate x

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