Rook Lane Blog

This weekend, during my trip to London, I was urged to check out the Ghost of Gone Birds exhibition at Rochelle School – an art exhibition documenting extinct birds. The recommendation came from two separate creative people – with good taste – and so I wound up venturing through the bustling Columbia Road Market (over which the sun is always shining) on Sunday morning with my sister, husband and an ornithophobic friend – an apparently extremely common fear (of birds) – according to BBC Radio 4.

The old school, in which the exhibition is displayed, has wonderfully high ceilings and the windows let in lots of light. (It seems whenever I discuss an exhibition space – I comment on the ceiling, windows and amount of light ‘flooding in’ – but the space really does affect the quality of the exhibition.)

The path leading up to the gallery had silhouettes of birds in flight – stencilled into the gravel. We guessed the stencils were laid and then the positive space power-washed to leave a clean patch in the shape of a bird. Good start, we agreed.

Inside, there were works by Sir Peter Blake, Margaret Atwood (apparently – I was told this afterwards and didn’t see it in the space – a shame, as I’m a big admirer of her literature and would be thrilled to see her visual art) and other big names, as well as lesser-known artists.

One big name was Ralph Steadman:

I’m something of a fan, particularly after discovering that he had exhibited at Black Swan Arts just before I began filtering through their archives last year.

My bird-fearing friend was, amazingly, not in the slightest bit disturbed by these rather horrid bird sculptures:

… she reckons it’s because the birds are now extinct.

We had lots of fun fiddling with the clever wooden bird models with handles that could be spun to make the bird lurch forward – as if in flight. The steward didn’t seem very relaxed about us interacting with the interactive installation but we carried on nonetheless:

There was a good combination of sculpture, painting, etchings and models – many with narratives.

My favourite room was definitely the Ralph Steadman room – with masses of brightly coloured, splattered paintings of evil birds:

The exhibition is now finished, I’m afraid, so it’s too late to see it. But well worth keeping an eye on the Rochelle School for other interesting exhibitions and events.

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