Leopard and Carmine Bee-eaters – Greg Poole
Yesterday I spent large amounts of time from lunchtime to dinner time in the Mall Galleries, in The Mall, at various events including the opening of the SWLA exhibition and a BTO evening reception involving people getting awards. And a pretty good time was had by most I think.
There was a lot of striking art, and much to admire, although several people said to me, and I agree with them, that there appeared to be quite a lot of recycled art from previous years which rather takes the edge off the novelty.
And I still feel that we see a lot of safe art in this exhibition and I wonder whether there is a little more edgy and political art that could make its way onto these walls (but I say that every year and so repeat it here as much for consistency as in any hope that things will change). But I was very pleased to see the approach taken by, and the beautiful images of, Derek Robertson in this regard. Bird studies in dystopia is still available and is probably my favourite – fingers crossed for a massive premium bond win in November.
The talking point of the exhibition was probably this chap..
Orangutan (Old Man of the Woods) – Nick Bibby
…who looks a bit grumpy but would be a great asset for the entrance hall of any company making money out of palm oil plantations in Indonesia or Malaysia. At a cool, and utterly reasonable, £75,250 it’s a snip (see catalogue entry for more details).
Daniel Cole’s wotrk for all but the egret which is by Antonia Phillips
I liked this Hen Harrier even before I discovered that I know the artist (Dafila Scott)…
…but see the catalogue entry for a fairer image) and it was just too tempting not to take this image…
…of a smiling ex-grouse moor owner in front of a Hen Harrier (and any suggestion that it is usually a grouse moor owner smiling in front of an ex-Hen Harrier is unworthy of you). Hat tip to Philip Astor for taking this in good spirit and having sold the part of his art collection that once hung on the walls of Tillypronie he will perhaps be looking for a few more raptors and gamebirds to brighten up his walls elsewhere?
There was a good crowd of people for the BTO’s evening event where Andy Clements made a good short speech and presented the BTO’s Dilys Breeze Medal to Martin Hughes-Games who follows an illustrious string of past winners who include, in the last decade, Mary Colwell, Michael McCarthy, Stuart Winter, Chris Packham and Brett Westwood (four women in 15 recipients).
Brian Marsh of the Marsh Christian Trust then presented a series of Marsh Awards as follows; Ornithology, Juliet Vickery of the RSPB; Innovative Ornithology, Stuart Newson, BTO; International Ornithology, David Stroud of the JNCC; Local Ornithology, Spurn Bird Observatory; and Young Ornithologist, Louis Driver. Depending on how Spurn Bird Observatory self-identifies, and I am guessing male, that’s one women in four). Congratulations to all the winners, but maybe they would have got a better build up and more of a feeling of joy had someone else handed out the awards (nuff said).
The crowd of people at the event included many notable attendees (depending on how one defines notable, of course): Ian Boyd, Christine Maggs, Philip Merricks, Ian Newton, Bill Oddie, Chris Perrins, Debbie Pain, Andrew Sells, and Findlay Wilde and many others (two women and seven men but your list might look different as you might know different people).
But it was none of those who suggested to me that brood management of Hen Harriers was just the same as brood management of Montagu’s Harriers. This usually intelligent and perspicacious man seemed to think that rescuing Montagu’s Harriers from imminent danger and releasing them once the danger had passed was similar in some way to removing Hen Harriers from a situation where they should be safe (provided the law is honoured) and then releasing them into a situation of danger a few weeks later.
I had a quick chat with Andrew Sells – he seemed less cheerful than usual but he will fairly soon be released from the strains of Natural England.
I was told some things that are definitely worth following up – and I shall.
I learned some interesting things, saw some interesting art, met some new interesting people and renewed my friendship with others. A good event at a good exhibition.
The Natural Eye exhibition is at The Mall Galleries until Sunday 4 November.