Beautiful illustrative Art Birds to spot amongst the Art Bird flock

If you’ve visited the abirdabode exhibition at Gallery Oldham during the last few weeks hopefully you took time to have a close look at the Art Bird Flock.

Most of the flock (of over three hundred Art Birds) were created by members of the public at drop in events including Festival Oldham, Oldham Flowers Festival, Well Good Arts Week and RSPB Discovery Sunday. They show a multitude of imaginative interpretations of beautiful bird plumage and create a stunning display. We think that digitally reproduced the flock would make an amazing wallpaper or fabric design if anyone has the technology and is interested!

However if you looks closely you may find hidden amongst the flock eleven unique birds painted by Gordon Haigh as ‘realistic illustrative Art Birds‘.

We met Gordon through the abirdabode project and it instantly became apparent that he was an artist we’d want to collaborate with and to be part of the project. His chosen medium is water colour (which is hard to believe when you see the level of detail in his work) and his subject (and obsession) is, of course, birds.

We hope you like Gordon’s realistic Art Birds and fingers crossed we’ll get chance to collaborate with him on a future abirdabode project. In the meantime you can see more of his work at The Multicraft Cabin in Holmfirth and contact him here.

 

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Dove Stone Youth Rangers visit Woodend Mill

It’s nest box decoration time for the Dove Stone Youth Rangers and to make life easier all round we’re running the next few creative sessions at Woodend Mill (it saves moving the Art Birdboxes whilst the paint is still wet and gives the DSYR a chance to observe artists in their natural habitat!)

The DSYR arrived at Woodend Mill on a wet sunday and proceeded take over Jacqui’s new print making studio which had been temporarily transformed into a painting studio for the day. Once the distraction of playing with the abirdabode mascots (Percy and Mugly) the group dived into the paint and with Jacqui’s help mixed individual colours following a set of paint swatches. Once a base coat was applied to each Art Birdbox a quick tour of Richard’s and Jacqui’s studios took place whilst the paint dried.

Everyone was amazed by the creative layout (or mess) that is Richard’s ‘man cave’ (thank you Zak!) and were fascinated by all the different media, materials, equipment and completed and in progress artworks strewn around the studios. As it was very cold in the mill we swiftly returned to Jacqui’s print studio and continued painting until parents arrived to collect everyone (the parents were also amazed by the studios and had a chance to play with Percy and Mugly).

Same time, same place next week then!

 

 

 

Barrier Breakers have green fingers (and red and blue and yellow…)

Our second visit to the brilliant Barrier Breakers and it was time to get painting, once we’d finished construction of the nest boxes that is…

Building the roofs for the diamond shaped boxes was made easier by using a specially constructed roof jig to hold the pieces at the required 90degrees whilst screwing them together and once the final pieces of the boxes were fixed  and all the roofs completed painting began.

Base coats where swiftly applied in a multitude of colours and then planning for details and top coats was made whilst the paint dried. Everyone enjoyed choosing colours and planning the look of their nest boxes; Nathan and (Hi) Lee are working in collaboration to produce rival Man Utd & Man City bird boxes so painted a base coat of green to be detailed as a football pitch next week. Leah also chose a green base for her Rugby Team theme, Kyle and Michael chose light blue as a sky effect and Sophie went for a lovely rich lion golden brown.

We were also thrilled to welcome new Barrier Breaker Katie to the project and she proved a dab hand at bird box making and in no time had her nest box ready for her beautiful  love birds theme design.

Some of the group will be cutting out 3D elements to enhance their designs so there was also scroll saw and band saw training to take part in! Kash took over as official group photographer for the night and took some great pictures (as well as a few selfies!).

All in all it was a very busy session but once again the group all worked together brilliantly (especially Nathan and Lewis who took on wandering assistants roles and helped everyone finish their making) and achieved a tremendous amount and had a great and really creative time.

The biggest abirdabode ever is complete!

Success at Grassroots as the big, big abirdabode is finished.

Two days hard work by everyone and the human sized nest box is complete and looking fine!

No pressure for abirdabode this week as on arrival at Grassroots we noticed that item three on the weeks work schedule was finish Birdhouse! Everyone rose to the challenge and worked extremely hard to ensure we reached our goal, and to stay warm in the sub zero temperatures!

Marnie and Loz cut extra roof planks whilst Neil and Kelly trimmed the eaves to fit, Nathan, Kelly, Andy and Jacqui completed the mosaic and timber round designs for the nest box sides. The additional last minute task of making a set of twelve sparrow nest boxes was completed in just under two hours by the speedy team of Darian, Ben and Mark.

With just ten minutes to go before lunch on Friday we raced to assemble the big abirdabode. After a swift panel saw adjustment to the peaks of the side walls everything fitted together beautifully and the Big abirdabode was complete and looking amazing. Everyone was thrilled and extremely proud of what their skill and hard work had achieved.

We’re now looking forward to installing the Big abirdabode in Gallery Oldham and giving everyone a chance to admire it.

Thank you to everyone at Grassroots for all the hard work and enthusiasm, it’s been a brilliant few weeks and a real pleasure to work with you all. The cakes are on us at the abirdabode show launch on March 14th!

 

 

 

Iron Man saves the birds

Lily’s Iron Man Nest Box is probably the most complicated in terms of shape and construction due to the number of parts required; one body, one head, two arms and two legs… But not only has it got to look like Tony Stark’s alter ego but Lily has chosen to make her nest box in the style of a Lego Iron Man.

I chose this because I think it would be a suitable size for a bird box and at the same time the design means it would be a unique shape. The colours are different and aesthetically pleasing.

The actual nest box part of Iron Man will be inside his torso (with the birds entering through the Arc Reactor of course) and this was the first and most straight forward part to be made.

Lily draw a very detailed set of plans and dimensions from her maquette and had no problem making the torso as a slightly tapered box shape. The legs were made in a similar way from thin plywood with the curved upper leg made from a piece of drain pipe. The most complex part to build was Iron Mans head but with Bronagh’s assistance to cut a number of rings for form the outer edge of Iron Man’s helmet and support some bendy ply to form Iron Man’s face the end result looked great.

Trinity Terrace gets colourful

A very snowy Wednesday morning and we returned to Trinity House to continue making some house shaped abirdabodes. Although a couple of the group couldn’t make it in due to the snow Edna, Brian, Joyce and Eleanor were keen to get going.

From the drawings we’d made the week before the plan was to make a set of house shaped nest boxes to reflect the houses and mills of Oldham.

Work commenced with mixing some background colours for each house, a series of red, browns and oranges that were applied with dabbing brushes to give a bit of texture. For added interest colours were mixed directly onto the boxes or different tones applied to different sides of the nest boxes. Once the base coat was dry it was time to add some detail. Painting individual bricks by hand was a daunting task so we’d prepared a set of brick pattern stencils to use. We tested one on a scrap of paper and they worked brilliantly. Everyone was amazed with how real the brick and stone work effect was, especially Edna who could hardly wait to add dark red bricks to every side of her nest box even before the base coat was fully dried.

Our first layer of detail added it was time to dash off before the snow got too heavy. Before we left we made a plan for the next layer of details to add to the boxes; chimneys, windows with curtains, a pink front door, trees, gutters and possibly a wheelie bin… All in all Trinity Terrace is going to look great for the abirdabode show and we hope the birds appreciate all the hard work!

 

 

Barrier Breakers Build Brilliant Bird Boxes.

The New Year kicked off with a bang for abirdabode as Barrier Breakers joined the project. Barriers Breakers is a forum and support group for young people with additional needs and disabilities that meets on Monday evenings at Oldham Civic Centre as part of Oldham Youth Council.

With Barrier Breakers we wanted to maintain the abirdabode ethos of being as hands on as possible with the making of the nest boxes. As we knew this would be a challenge for some of the group, we ran a quick intro and training session for the support workers first. We covered how the bird boxes would be made from the kit of parts, how to use the drills and tool kit and general safety. Using the drills was a new experience for the team and there were a few worried expressions and some trepidation as to whether the young people were going to be able to manage. Jacqui and I were determined that the session would be as hands on as possible and, with Greg Cookson’s support and belief in what we were doing, the team agreed to go for it just as the young people arrived.

The Barrier Breakers members had been working on designs for their bird boxes over the past few weeks and had prepared a presentation. Their ideas are varied and exciting and will produce some amazing art birdboxes, which will include a Lewis Hamiliton F1 inspired nest box, a Giving Nature A Home nest box with butterfly and flower decoration and nest boxes featuring dinosaurs, lions and Rugby teams amongst others…

Following the presentation each participant chose which design their box would be; a traditional rectangular box or a more contemporary diamond design. Then the making began…

The group members exceeded our expectations with what they achieved, every single member of the group managed to drill pilot holes in the timber sections of the boxes and then proceeded to screw them together! A few of the group were nervous of using the drills at first but with careful encouragement and familiarising them with the tool kit step by step they overcame their concerns and by the end of the session were using the drills with great gusto and huge smiles.

Michael, Brandon, Nathan, (Hi-) Lee and Mubaarak proved absolute stars assisting other group members with the construction of their bird boxes and their confidence, patience and skills were fantastic.

Despite some questions over which practical creative activities would work for the group our initial session proved what they can achieve and the bird boxes will genuinely be their own work and will be something to be truly proud of.

At the end of the session one of the youth workers admitted she’d been worried all day about the activity but was amazed and actually close to tears over how well the group had done and how much they had got out of it…

Michael made a brilliant comment that despite doing some woodwork at school he’d learnt more in the last 2 hours than during 5 years at school! This alongside the looks of amazement on parent’s faces when they arrived at the end of the evening and saw the practical work going on and the fact that none of the group wanted to leave makes this one of the best creative sessions for the abirdabode project so far!