I have wanted to sculpt a series of silver and bronze swift sculptures for ages. Swifts are one of my favourite birds. They always make me think of blue skies and summer! I look forward every year to their arrival in early May and their aerobatic displays and distinctive scream-like calls. They visit the UK for a couple of months to breed, before heading off to winter in Africa.
They are extraordinary birds and have a well-deserved reputation for being the most incredible fliers. In their annual migratory journeys, they cover huge distances, often exceeding 200,000 km. They stay in the air for months at a time, sleeping and mating on the wing. Unsurprising that their long scythe-like wings and short forked tails have inspired some aircraft designs!
Sadly, these beautiful birds are in trouble. The UK has seen their numbers drop by over half in twenty years. It is a familiar story and several factors are having a detrimental impact on the swift’s declining population. For instance, climate change is causing unprecedented changes in our weather and insect numbers have collapsed, the swift’s favourite source of food. If that wasn’t bad enough, swifts are suffering the loss of traditional nesting sites. They like to nest in holes or crevices in walls and under the eaves of buildings. However, old buildings are being demolished or refurbished with tighter insulation. And as more and more new houses are built without those nooks and crannies, the swifts have less and less places to stay while they are here.
I wanted to celebrate this fascinating bird in a series of silver and bronze swift sculptures – Swift Soaring 2019, Swift Swooping 2019, Swifts Silver 2019 and Swifts Bronze 2019. I hope I have been able to convey a sense of this bird’s extraordinary mastery of the air, evoking rising thermals and high speed flights paths. As the swift is monogamous, I think they’d make a great gift for a wedding or even a silver wedding anniversary.
They are still here a good few weeks left to enjoy seeing them in our skies. On a warm summer evening, there is nothing better than watching a noisy party of swifts swooping and diving and showing off!