Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Art of Saving Species – Guest Curator – Jack Wallington

Jack Wallington

JACK WALLINGTON

Profile

I am a landscape designer focused on contemporary gardens that are good for wildlife and us. Working with businesses and private homes, I have designed over 60 gardens since switching careers a few years ago. The starting point for my work is studying natural habitats, landscapes and wildlife, trying to capture wild magic to bring to our gardens. Alongside my design work I am a published author of a number of books including Wild about Weeds, focused on wildflowers. When I’m not designing and writing, I’m out in nature drawing and photographing what I see.

Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher

I love the timelessness of this piece; it feels like it could come from the past or the future. Using a selection of random natural materials, it called out to me for the creativity we humans have, and our ability to understand abstract ideas like meaning in dreams. It makes me sad and hopeful at the same time for the future of endangered wildlife depending on what we all choose to do next to save our planet, or not.

Wire Sculpture

Wire Sculpture

The modern, almost minimalist structure combined with bright colours makes for an eye-catching work of art that could quite happily sit in Tate art galleries. The lively colours capture the energy and vibrancy of nature.

Gems in the Dunes Drawing

Sefton Coast Drawing

An excellent pencil sketch of a beautiful landscape - by drawing in black and white it captures the atmosphere and feeling of this coastal habitat. Seeing details, texture and shadow we may otherwise have missed if it were in colour. It shows the artist really sees and understands nature.

5) Turtle Dove copy

Turtle Dove

The story of the turtle dove is a sad one, once abundant in the UK and now quite rare, humans have reduced its numbers greatly through habitat loss. Watercolour is a difficult medium to paint with and the artist here has used it to capture the turtle dove’s detail and beauty perfectly.

Long Ears and Narrow Heads

 

Grey Long-eared Bat

I love bats - they’re cute and fluffy - and this drawing makes fantastic use of light and shadow to draw out the grey long eared bat’s personality. If everyone could see bats in the same light as this artist, hopefully more will take action to protect them.

Postcard

Necklace Ground Beetle

Our insect life is in dire need of our help, with populations declining by as much as 70% in the last few decades. I know many people are scared of insects, but I feel sure that if everyone saw them up close, to see how exquisite so many are, they would change how they feel. This watercolour captures the shape and unusual detailing of a beetle.

Tracks of Northern Dune Tiger Beetle (Cicindela hybrida) on dune system at Ainsdale Nature Reserve, Merseyside, UK. May. Photographer: Alex Hyde

Tracks of the Northern Dune Tiger Beetle - Alex Hyde

I thought it was clever and sympathetic of the photographer here to allow nature itself to create the artwork, and to capture that so well. There is so much wonder in nature that we walk past every day, hopefully this photo will help others spot that magic.

Barberry Carpet Moth (Pareulype berberata) photographed on a white backgroun in mobile field studio.
Close up scale detail of Barberry Carpet Moth (Pareulype berberata)
Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita) detail of eye, Sefton Coast,  Merseyside, UK. April. Photographed under licence. Photographer: Alex Hyde

 

 

Barberry Carpet Moth - Alex Hyde

Moths unfairly have a bad name because they tend to flap around us at night, and yet they are as beautiful as butterflies if we only take the time to look. Often fluffy and patterned in earthy colours, these photos show that something, thought to be mundane, is so much more.

 

 

 

Natterjack Toad - Alex Hyde

Toads are quite magical creatures, with golden eyes captured so brilliantly in this photo. For an animal that spends its time in damp, dark places the colour of those eyes glow with its true majesty.

Creative Q & A

It would be great to hear about your experience of wildlife and biodiversity through creativity, for example, do you connect to nature through a creative outlet and have you got an early memory of nature in books, film, poetry that you can think back to having had an influence on you? How about now?

Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favourite childhood works of writing and art linked to nature. Although it’s about imagined creatures, they capture the wonder we feel when looking at true nature, the wild things a representation of that feeling. Today I still love all art tied back to nature, particularly modern abstract art that focuses on feelings, as well as detailed accurate drawings and paintings - they both serve different purposes to me.

How can creativity and painting, drawing, poetry etc., make nature, enjoying wildlife and understanding the big issues more inclusive and diverse?

In so many ways. Art in all its forms, to me, is about a feeling or capturing how each of our unique personalities see the world. Photography can help capture a fast moving bird or zoom in for more detail to show people what they may otherwise miss. Painting and drawing helps convey our feelings and mood in ways photography can’t. As a writer, I love the written word and the experiences that conversation shares with whoever cares to read it.

Do you think our efforts to reach people through creative workshops and events are positive initiatives? Why?

Absolutely, I am delighted the RSPB is exploring the relationship between us and nature through art and creativity. Often the connection we feel to the natural world can only be explained via creative expression and art.

Art and artists often express social issues through art. Nature has long been connected to art and the earliest forms of art depict wild animals. There are examples now, but do you think there is a bigger role for art and artists in raising the profile of biodiversity loss? If so, what might that look like? Do you think this varies across communities and cultures; and why aren’t there more artists working to highlight environmental issues?

Too often art is focused inward on humanity and I believe there is a much bigger role art and artists can do to raise the profile of biodiversity loss by looking outwards. Firstly, by documenting that loss, capturing what is truly happening around the world as habitats vanish, ecosystem collapse because of insecticides, and species going extinct. Also, by helping people to understand the natural world and how we are part of it. Finally, by also showing what a future could look like if we act to protect nature, and if we don’t.

Back from the Brink is an England-wide collaborative partnership programme of major conservation organisations, landowners and farmers – what are you views on collaboration nationally and internationally?

The only way to save wildlife is through collaboration, I am grateful Back from the Brink brings conservation organisations, landowners and farmers together in this way. It’s vital such initiatives are also international because conservation is a global issue, not just a local one, and time is running out.

 

Jack Wallington

Landscape Designer

@JackWallington - Twitter @JackWallingtonDesign - Instagram

 

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