student in the lab

Fundraising for swift boxes

Posted: 21st March 2019


I took this photograph on a visit to Tate Modern last year, when a gull followed me around the café.  It was persistent and slightly aggressive, and I wondered why it was so far from the sea.

Traditionally gulls have lived near the coast, but they are increasingly breaking their connection with the sea and being found in urban areas, in part due to the decline in the UK fishing industry.  Gulls are highly adaptable and bold and are taking advantage of our wastefulness – food waste in landfill sites and on urban streets provides a ready food source for them.  Rural gulls are in decline, and some are now endangered, while urban gull populations are rising rapidly.

I developed the photograph into an etching for the Young Art Competition at the RCA.  The subject this year was ‘the moment’.  I thought this piece encompassed the theme in that it showed an unexpected and fleeting encounter with an animal, as well as being an example of the ‘moment’ we are in as a species, having drastically modified our environment to suit our desires.

Swifts are incredible birds, spending most of their lives on the wing and only landing when it’s time to nest. The swifts that nest in the UK arrive here in late April – May, having flown 6000 miles from Africa.  They may spend just three months with us; soaring and swooping over rooftops catching insects to eat.

But they’re in serious trouble here, with numbers down to less than half of what they were just twenty years ago. Modern buildings lack the nooks and crannies they need, and swifts are struggling to find homes.

Fortunately there are ways to help these birds. There are special swift nestboxes available, and swift boxes and swift bricks can work especially well when put up in groups, as these birds like to be near other swifts.

I have had printed twenty high-quality digital copies of ‘City Gull’ which I propose to sell for £25 each.  This would raise £500, enough to buy twelve nesting boxes for swifts for Dulwich Prep.  If they could be fitted before mid-April then they would be in place ready for the swifts after their incredible journey.

Please see me or contact Ms Carbonell if you would like to buy a print in support of my proposal.

Jolyon, 7L

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