Britain’s disappearing bird life

Artist ATM grew up in the North of England, in a mill town edged by open fields, streams, steep-sided river valleys and moorland.

Barn owl
Barn owl

‘I had easy access to quite empty and undisturbed places when I was young,’ he says. ‘This formed my love of nature and birds in particular.’

Now resident in London, ATM has been highlighting the plight of Britain’s endangered birds through a series of street art works. A snipe in East Acton is joined by a chaffinch in Loughborough. A great bustard, a bittern and a barn owl are also portrayed.

Bittern
Bittern

ATM says, ‘I have always loved birds, for their beauty and character and the association they have always had for me with the wild and unspoilt places where they are most often found.

‘It seems prescient to paint them in urbanised and industrialised settings, as not so long ago this is where they would have been living.’

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

ATM’s series aims to raise awareness of the issue of declining bird life and implement change. He says the populations of many once-common birds have declined by 70-80 per cent in the last 30 years, adding, ‘Unless radical steps are taken to reverse this trend… many of the best-loved British birds will become extinct in the next decade or so.’

ATM places his work at sites where birds might once have thrived, or to which they may return.

Snipe
Snipe

A snipe, a grey partridge and a barn owl are painted on walls at the South Acton Estate as part of a project run by Acton Community Forum. ‘The birds once flourished here,’ says ATM, ‘but might one day return if suitable habit was restored.’

Similarly a chaffinch is sited outside Loughborough Farm, a new community garden where chaffinches might take up residence.

Great bustard
Great bustard

ATM bases his work on photographs, stuffed specimens and visits to the zoo. He says, ‘With each painting I try to capture something of the particular character and energy of the subject.’

The artist wants to continue his series by painting other British bird species that are in danger of disappearing – citing the kestrel, yellowhammer and cuckoo by way of example. ‘Tragically,’ he says, ‘there is a very long list.’

Jay
Jay
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  • Roy Wylam November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    A Ray of Hope

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