In the province of Perugia, Umbria in the 13th century a man was walking through the Spoleto valley with friends; his encounter with a flock of Jackdaws is the basis of this new watercolour painting.
Every bird is essentially an elaborate container of life, like us however there is perhaps a more subtle dimension out of the reach of science. Some species in particular have a quality of voice, behaviour or plumage particularly suggestive of this, and a painting of the Subalpine Warbler seeks to illustrate the case.
The Green Woodpecker is a ground-feeding bird with a distinctive call and dramatic plumage. This simple watercolour depicts a female bird in winter and seeks to express something of its characteristically alert ground posture and rather unnerving glare.
Some places live long in the memory. In a corner of East Sussex is the remarkable cinque port of Rye and on the lonely marshes of Winchelsea, Camber Castle which is the subject of this watercolour.
The Raven has become for me a kind of totemic bird for the area of mid-Wales I came to know better during the winter of 2017. A series of ink and watercolour paintings were produced over this time to respond to their presence in the valleys, at a time when species diversity is relatively low and the Raven is presumably one of the few birds able to eke a living out of those scraps, carrion and other animals also capable of roughing-out a Welsh winter.
Watercolour and ink on paper, 297x423cm
The horizon line is important in this composition as it was the landscape-analogue to the bird, an eternal feature of the valleys with its rising bowl shape whose crinkled brow is ever defined by the massed ranks of conifers – whatever the season. The blue is a night blue, a twilight, evening blue of a winter night in a Welsh valley. Try and imagine the lonely yet commanding grrok-grrok call of the Raven if you will.