Birdsong at Shibden
Original media: Painted in inks, gouache, acrylic, watercolour, gold leaf and gold thread.
Measures 58cm x 58cm (mounted)
Painted in 2020 for the ‘Toffee Town’ exhibition at The Yorkshire Gallery in Halifax’s Piece Hall. Sometimes, paintings decide for themselves, and this was one of those. I was commissioned by Shibden Hall to create a painting of the house for permanent display there. I designed two pieces, and this is the one that they didn’t choose. Standing on the wall in front of the orchard, looking down on the hall I had the idea of a birds eye view. I began the painting in Autumn 2019, and it began as an autumn scene. But the atmosphere wasn’t right – I couldn’t get the light and I left it for months, half done. Then one day in March I stepped out of my house on what felt like the first proper spring day. There was a beautiful clean, blue light, and birdsong, and the first, sappy greens. Back in the studio the painting decided to be spring, and with that came the idea that it should be all about the birds. The crows and the doves are there to represent Ann Lister and Anne Walker – a suggestion made for the Shibden Hall commission. The row along the bottom are all the birds in the stained glass fragments from the window in the main hall (believed originally to have come from local priories after the dissolution of the monasteries). I don’t know their symbolism, though have been told that the figure with the fish under his arm in the devil making off with someone’s soul! This piece is on display at The Yorkshire Gallery from September 26th 2020. Prints are available from The Yorkshire Gallery and Heart Gallery from that date. They will be available online from October 27th.