Towner Gallery, Eastbourne 2014. The statement below was submitted with the two entries but not shown on the gallery wall. 

I am mesmerised by ‘the performance of His Majesty’s servants, the Clouds,Waters, Sun, Moon, Stars’* and by all the myriad creatures who grace our world; especially the birds. The works submitted attempt to celebrate this love and fascination and reflect on the political, financial and changing environmental forces affecting the natural world and us, here and now.

Self-interested politicians and grasping businessmen continue to cynically exploit our most precious assets –ignoring changing weather patterns, threatening every free and open space within these shores with concrete, the very places we need and cherish – our fragile wildlife’s home. But being British we pass the buck and muddle on – hoping everything will just turn out fine …..

These two paintings are part of a bigger suite of paintings that have been inspired by my walking along paths and over hills of East Sussex. One of the turning points in my work came whilst slowly ambling along the River Ouse one sunny afternoon.

In the far distance I heard the unmistaken call of the cuckoo. Like rainbows, we never get tired of the sensation of something so surprising and so beautiful. Cuckoos are rarely seen but mostly heard. The call got louder; I stood still.

Between pauses the volume increased. Then ‘COOK-COOO!!’ : a cry directly above my head… at Spinal Tap 11 ear-splitting volume : a male cuckoo making a bee-line across the meadow. Had hereally flown all the way from Africa?!

The sight and thrill of that bird remains with me forever.

Our world is more fragile than we imagine. We are privileged to have such living beauty before our eyes, we must value the life of birds and give them the respect and the freedom they deserve.

They cry out to be painted.

*Thanks to RICHARD MABEY, quoting Coleridge, ‘We’re All In It Together’, Saturday Guardian Review, 16.02.13

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