26 Aug 2011

Ghosts of Gone Birds London haunt announced...

By Jim Lawrence

Following the launch of an extraordinary new multi-media art exhibition - Ghosts of Gone Birds - at the Liverpool School of Art & Design earlier this year, the show has grown and evolved during the summer and will now 'manifest' in London's East End this November. The ground-breaking exhibition, which highlights the growing extinction crisis and promotes The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme, will be held in Shoreditch, at the Rochelle School, London E2. Doors open to the public on November 2nd and the event will run until November 23rd. More than eighty leading artists, sculptors, musicians, writers and poets are contributing. Each artist has chosen a different extinct species and is producing a new piece of art that has been inspired by the bird and which celebrates its former life on earth. Original art featured in the show (as well as many limited editions) will be for sale, with a contribution from each transaction made to BirdLife. Individual artworks range in price from £200 to around £50,000. Award-winning sculptor Harriet Mead's stunning recreation of the extinct King Island Emu above, which she crafted from recycled agricultural implements, is just one great example of the two hundred or so fabulous artworks that will be on display in London.

Ralph Steadman - Dodo

Many of the contributing artists are still producing their pieces but among other selections already made are Jamie Hewlett – Hawaiian Crow; Rob Ryan – Stephen’s Island Wren; Ralph Steadman – Pallas’s Cormorant, Dodo and Liverpool Pigeon; and Greg Poole – Jamaican Red Macaw. The natural rate of bird extinction is just one bird each century but in the last thirty years alone, 21 species have disappeared. At present, 189 are classified Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and, without immediate action, many of these will not be here in ten years’ time. One clear example is the albatross family, which is fast becoming the most threatened family of birds in the world. Dying at a rate of around one every five minutes albatrosses are disappearing faster than they can actually breed – so 18 out of the 22 species of albatross are now facing global extinction. Ghosts of Gone Birds has been created and is being staged by filmmaker Ceri Levy, best known for his documentary film Bananaz about the rock band Gorillaz and Chris Aldhous, award-winning director of London creative consultancy GOODPILOT. “We’re aiming to raise a creative army for conservation and it’s fair to say that we have been floored by the response of the artists we’ve asked to create new work for us." said Ceri Levy. " To have the likes of Sir Peter Blake, Ralph Steadman, and Margaret Atwood producing new work for the exhibition is a clear illustration of the enthusiasm and support that exists for the cause. The project is reaching out to involve new audiences in conversations about conservation through their collective interest in contemporary art, music and poetry. We want to get people thinking about the diverse range of birds that have already been lost to extinction and introduce them to the work of BirdLife International.”

Rob Ryan - If Only

“To find so many creative people engaged with the subject of birds and the threat of extinction that faces so many of them today, is truly inspiring." said honoured author Margaret Atwood, who is also contributing to the exhibition by knitting a Great Auk. " This magnificent show will reconnect us to the natural world, teach us about our past, and fuel our interest in saving what we are losing daily. See the show, love the show, add to the show, and learn how to help.” Dr. Marco Lambertini, Chief Executive of BirdLife International, said, “In modern times, species are going extinct at least a thousand times the natural background rate. Many more are so threatened that they are on the verge of disappearing and urgent action is needed. Ghosts of Gone Birds is a provocative new way to reach out and inspire a wide audience about today's extinction crisis and mobilise action to rescue the species at risk today. There is still hope and the BirdLife Partnership has shown that, with the right resources and targeted action, species can be saved. Please join BirdLife and help us in the fight to stop any of the magnificent species threatened today from joining the Ghosts of Gone Birds." As well as being a great way to raise awareness, Ghosts of Gone Birds is also helping us find new Species Champions to fund the vital conservation action that can help us prevent extinctions today."  said Jim Lawrence - BirdLife's Preventing Extinctions Programme Manager. "The London show provides a fantastic opportunity to sponsors who wish to get involved as well. We will be working closely there with RSPB, our UK Partner, to highlight the globally threatened species they are acting for. Publicity is starting to build and has already attracted the attention of a number of individuals and companies who have been inspired by this incredible new collection of art.  Currently we are very excited about benefitting from the show in London but in future years we also hope to build on this momentum and see Ghosts taken to other major cities which will further support the BirdLife International Partnership's extraordinary work preventing extinctions."

Bruce Pearson - Great Auks

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Read what the Guardian's art correspondent Mark Brown says about Ghosts of Gone Birds here and see readers' comments. For more information and to see previews of some of the amazing Ghosts artwork that will be on display in London follow this link to the Ghosts of Gone Birds facebook page. If you are on facebook and would like to register your support for Ghosts of Gone Birds go to the link above and like "become a part of the team" in the left hand navigation. For more information on how to support the BirdLife projects that inspired the show contact jim.lawrence@birdlife.org For more information about Ghosts of Gone Birds contact gonebirds@goodpilot.co.uk