blackbirds & blackboards

Firstly, blackbirds. Last year I wrote a blogpost about my relationship with a female blackbird that grew over summer 2021. By the end of the year I rarely saw her, but a young male with a slash of white on the edge of his left wing began to visit the garden looking for food.

Last week, he returned! I had stopped feeding the birds for sometime due to a rat popping in (thankfully my neighbour dispatched with that). But when I called tut tut to the male blackbird, and he came down to look for food, I couldn’t resist. Out came the mealworms.

The last couple of days he has been here regularly and is now accompanied by a very large, dominant hen. She screams at him to feed her, with her beak wide open. I confess that, last year, I privileged the females over the males, because the females packed their beaks with mealworms to feed their young. The males just fed themselves. I suspect I was wrong, as it seems both males and females feed the fledglings. Maybe today she needed feeding by him because she has to build up her strength for incubating the eggs?

Anyway, I am pleased they are back.

Update Sunday 24th April: this morning the birds called with their tut tut tut as soon as I opened the back door. I responded, we did this for some time. They occasionally altered length or tone of calls and I mimicked them. Like audio pingpong. As soon as I came in and shut the door, they swooped down and peered around curiously, looking for me, then ate the mealworms.

And Blackboards? The two words have been in my mind a lot and it makes sense to put them together. I have been depicting future flooding areas of the Severn by creating reduction lino-prints. The action of erasing the land where the water covers it was rich for me. So I decided to use a similar technique using chalk and blackboard. I need to experiment, play a while, before committing to a large intense drawing. So I bought a blackboard instead of paper and set to.

I have started tentatively, I want to do my best to get the most out of the materials. Then rub it off and start again. It takes me back to a course I went on last year, Drawing Breath, with Tania Kovats and Chloe Briggs. We drew, then erased, and redrew the same thing again, and again, repeatedly. Looking, really looking, is addictive and meditative too.

I am loathe to show you the drawing until it is finished. But here is how I started it. It began to get dark so I had to stop, it is impossible to see the nuances in artificial light.

Blackbirds, blackboards, both keep my attention, settle me, engage me. They make me smile.

Published by carolyn black

I'm an artist and also commission contemporary art in unusual locations. As a producer, I fundraise, curate, project manage and deliver projects. I'm also a writer and film-maker.

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