Evensong [ee-vuh n-sawng, -song]
noun: a service of evening prayers, psalms, and canticles, conducted according to a set form, especially that of the Anglican Church.
Seven o’clock, Sunday evening and the wren sings to the heavens. For this brief moment in time heaven surely did exist upon this patch of Earth. In the hedgerows, between the fields of wheat, blessedly bordered with grasses and wildflowers. I hear your prayer little wren. A plea to humanity to protect your habitat for generations to come. I hear you give thanks to the farmer who so tenderly looks after the wild borders around his precious crops. The abundance of life in this small paradise was a joy to behold! I revelled in the glory of the sights and sounds of nature in suburban Surrey.
This week Krista has asked us to depict something or someone we admire. I admire every single member of my family and all my amazing friends, so I don’t want to single any of them out! I happened to be working on a composite image of wrens when the challenge came up, so I felt it was the perfect opportunity to explain the inspiration behind the composition of the piece. The way the wren moved about on the branch was quite comical and reminded me of the work of wildlife artist, Warwick Higgs. Please have a look at his work, it’s great fun!
Sixteen years ago I was working in a gallery in Epsom. We made bespoke frames for all sorts of pieces of art, as well as selling prints, limited editions and Fine Art originals. They were some of the happiest days of my life but also some of the hardest. My Crohn’s was out of control and I went through three major operations to have a permanent stoma formed, an ileostomy. Having a place to work, if only part-time when my health allowed, gave me a real purpose and enormous satisfaction. My boss and colleagues were always supportive and understanding. It was hard for all of us when arthritic problems and fibromyalgia made it just too unsafe for me to continue working as a framer several years later.
It wasn’t just my co-workers in the gallery who gave me much needed support though! We worked closely with a number of wildlife artists who I admired very much indeed. Among them were David Sheppard CBE, Gary Hodges and Warwick Higgs. All of these artists helped us raise funds, for local and international wildlife charities, through auctions of their art at events held in the gallery. Warwick spent a lot of time with us as we framed many his originals. He also used the gallery space to hold a number of Live Art days, setting up his easel in the window space and sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with everyone who visited.
He was always very encouraging of my own art, both painting and photography. We shared a love for the observation of animal behavior, bringing some of those charismatic quirks into our work. I remember being incredibly touched when I received a handmade card and letter from Warwick whilst I was in hospital for the second of my operations. To be able to make someone feel valued is a rare gift! I will never forget his support and wish that I hadn’t lost touch with him over the years. A wonderful artist whose observation of the natural world has always produced the most delightful and fun pieces of art!
Today marks the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare‘s death. It’s also 452 years since his birth! Forget St George, for me Shakespeare is our National Bard and I have decided to honour him with an artistic composite, picturing one of the Nation’s favourite birds, the wren. I had a few glorious moments with this beautiful little bird, early in the morning a week ago along the canal. The birdsong was such a delight and this wren kept me on my toes for a bit, flitting back and forth from one side of the canal to the other! I’ll share my other (more original) images another day as he really was a funny little character.
So why a wren you ask? Well I wanted to represent one of Shakespeare’s famous quotes within a typically English style landscape. I could have gone with a rose, a horse, a skull, the moon (done that one!), a crown, three witches, a dagger, a spot, an ass, a wall, two bees, a stage, a pound of flesh, lawyers, love (repeatedly) or dreams. Phew! But no, there’s a quote from Richard III that was astute at the time and still holds true today I think. One of The Bard’s many cutting comments on the nature of people. Wrens are fast and furious with their chatter!
Richard III by William Shakespeare
(Act I, Scene III) Gloucester to Queen Elizabeth
“The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch”