Wildlife has always had a significant place in my life. I simply adored growing up on the north coast of Cornwall at Holywell Bay. The only sounds at night in the summer would be the crickets and the gentle distant sound of the waves crashing on the shore. It was absolutely magical and I feel nourished by that experience still.
I was very fond of bird watching as a young boy and would spend hours watching my bird table for unusual species. I had a camera set up too with a long release cable so that I could attempt to record the action. It was never very successful as each time I had to go back out to wind on the film and all the birds flew away !
The soundtrack to Cornwall and the seaside has to be the cry of the gull. Seagulls have plenty of bad press as they do love a sneaky pasty of ice cream or two, but they are a wonderful bird that creates the character and soul of the seaside.
As a boy I always used to imagine how wonderful it would be to be a seagull and the freedom that would bring. The two majestic rocks at Holywell bay, gull rocks, always held a sense of magic for me. The seagulls returned there each evening to roost, often flying overhead at dusk after their fishing trips or scavenging trips.
My fondness for wildlife and seagulls was really apparent when I decided to take a seagull home for the night! I found a fully grown seagull on the beach at Holywell Bay which didn't seem to want to fly. The obvious thing was to look after it at home I thought, so ignoring the bird's protests I popped it under my arm. What a sight I must have been and what a surprise my mum must have had ! The Seagull repeatedly bit me around the face, but I persisted as I felt it needed some care. I was disappointed I wasn't allowed to keep the seagull in my bedroom, but I was given access to the workshop in the garden to keep my new friend in.
I popped the seagull in the workshop, put out a bowl of water and cat food and left it to it.
The next morning I went to find my new seagull friend and not only had he decided to redecorate the entire workshop with white and brown splats, but he was flying again !
I bravely captured the seagull who had decided the gazed window looked like a good option to get through and took him outside for a launch.
He flapped away happily towards the beach leaving a happy young artist gazing in admiration at the freedom and power of this magical sea bird. It never occurred to me to clean up the workshop, but I guess somebody did !
The striking look of the gulls always impressed and the sense of space they created. It really emphasises the space around you when there are birds soaring overhead at various distances and this ability to depict space, the soundtrack to the coast, and the my childhood fascination with their freedom is all captured by my use of seagulls in my paintings.
John Dyer 2017