Four months ago Sarah and I picked up a jackdaw. We thought she would fly away after filling her with food but she now owns us! We are her parents who woke up at 5.30am for feeds and fretted when she first flew away from us. We have been staying in a makeshift home on three acres of land, where she is free to come and go. Sarah thinks we have been rewilded as the jackdaw has taken us further into her world; there is little access to the internet here and I feel a calmness after the initial battle against not engaging with the social media world – I have been disconnected!
Instead I have gorged myself on home grown tomatoes that the jackdaw and I watched and watered daily. She would sit on my shoulder and walk down my arm to study me snipping and tying them up. I would stand by her as she bathed in a shallow red clay bowl, protecting her from the marsh harriers, buzzards, sparrowhawks and cats that constantly swooped and crawled through the land to find her; she always had one eye watching out for them as they knew she was here. Often she would make me realise they were nearby, even before I could see them – her instincts are good.
I think her awareness was transferred a little and I feel another side of my instincts have been more finely tuned. In my work I find this is essential. I want to gather the essence of the environment around me. I find a lot of solace in the natural world but I’m also interested in the world that we are creating within it.
I don’t want to lose my instincts; I want to tune in and be able to capture a moment in my work that will show the light, weather or a feeling. I think it is the cleverer subconscious mind that I trust to gather that information, I think that this is where our natural instincts sit and watch over us.
Bathers II, oil on linen 97x127cm (this painting is one of four listed here that has been selected by The Society of Wildlife Artist’s annual show at the Mall Galleries, London) Catching birds relaxing on a private area of marsh. I had an idea building for a painting when watching this scene. I wanted to capture their block forms in these sketches.
Raw Marsh, oil on linen 97x127cm I’m trying to capture the cold, gritty rawness of the marsh here in Cley. This is how I feel sitting in the marsh hide, especially when the North wind is blowing in. I try to remember the information to take back to my studio, this painting is about memories of what I’ve just seen. I didn’t make any working sketches for some of these paintings. I want to rely on my senses and what my mind remembers.
Bathers I, oil on linen 97x127cm I have a friend in North Norfolk who’s reverted 200 acres of farmland into a nature reserve near Holkham. After each visit, I return to my studio to download my memories onto canvas. I try to recreate the passing of time and movement of creatures that move within the space and how the mind sees through one object to fill in the form of another.
Pool Movement, Life Between The Reeds, oil on linen 97x127cm The light in Cley can be dramatic, glowing reeds and cracked dark spaces where the birds hide.