Oil on linen, 105cm x 65cm
As a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) I was involved in a collaborative project with the RSPB on their new reserve, Wallasea Island, on the Essex coast. Created in part using the soil dug out to make London’s new Cross Rail underground line, this new reserve changed from farmland to wetland in just four years. The scant wildlife of a farmland monoculture has been transformed into a cornucopia of birds, plants and animals that have arrived of their own accord, and the reserve now boasts over eighty pairs of breeding avocets – the emblem of the RSPB.
On a bright and hot June afternoon an avocet takes a break from feeding. There is always a breeze on the flat expanses of the Essex marshes and the bird has one leg tucked away to its body to regulate heat loss. I wanted to convey that sense of brilliant sunshine sparkling off the water, filling the shadows with light. Dead thistles, casualties of the recent flooding of the lagoon, provide upright contrasts to the horizontal bands of mud and water.