Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Somerset House, London until October 25th
Crow Fledgling, Charcoal 112 x 82 cms
When a winter robin hops into our tiny city centre patio, I'm glad  to welcome her/him. But my approbation stops there. Birds are scary. They have too many options. Like spiders they can go in any direction, except backwards. In fact they are one up on spiders and humans in that they can fly. So you never know where they are going next.  And although they feel soft and feathery on the outside and may parade heart-breakingly lovely colours (and crows may have a green and purple iridescence), hidden in there somewhere are three very sharp fit-for-purpose pointy things - one beak and some scaly claws.

But I am completely won over by Crow Fledgling.  The work could have dipped into  sentimentality. Or it could have been squeezed dry and reduced to a text book illustration. Instead we have before us a moist, fragile, strong creature. As I try to step carefully around anthropomorphism - with its tendancy to attribute emotions or even speech to animals - I see a bird newly arrived, alert and dewy-eyed, bewildered but curious. Tenderness and wonder are the only reponse to this vulnerable creature, a reminder of the miracle of creation.which is happening around us day after day.

I wrote the above before I knew anything about the artist and her work. I have learnt since that she is also a linguist, a stand up comedian, a lecturer and course leader in creative thinking, visualisation and leadership. She says that her work as a counsellor with young and vulnerable people gives
 'me an insight into how we as a society protect and nurture our young. I paint portraits of my subjects and of young and vulnerable animals as a way of challenging the viewer to think about these issues. 

She exhibits regularly at, and has just been commissioned by Michael and Clare Morpurgo to design the 2014 Christmas card for their charity

Crow Fledgling is one of many works of art currently on show in London's Somerset House, short-listed by a distinguished panel in the annual National Open Art Exhibition, now in its 18th year. With prize money of  £60,000, it aims to nurture creative talent from both emerging and professional artists.

You can see it in Chichester at the Pallant House Gallery from Dec2 - 14
and at the Minerva Theatre Gallery, Chichester Festival Theatre from Dec 17 - Jan 3
Also back in London at the Works on Paper Fair at the Science Museum from 5-9 Feb

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