My Raystede Animal Welfare residency took place over two years, drawing and photographing their community of exotic rescue birds.

 

Raystede’s feathered residents have a broad range of past histories. Some were trapped in the wild, before 2007 legislation banned the import of wild-caught birds into the European Union. Others arrived as regretted impulse buys, as strays – escapees or intentionally abandoned. Among the saddest arrivals were those who have been incarcerated for years in small, barren cages. Others have been much-loved companion birds whose human guardians could no longer care for them.

 

Being birds, parrots are active, acrobatic and brim with curiosity, bobbing and twirling as they seek to engage with others. Naturally, this means practical challenges for the artist, necessitating speedy drawing from life over many hours. Further in-depth drawing is achieved with the help of reference photographs. 

 

Three paintings of Raystede's birds have been short-listed for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and one was hung in 2015.

 

Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare, The Broyle, Ringmer, East Sussex BN8 5AJ. www.raystede.org