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ArtsMillJo Whitehead's Resplendent Birds

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Artsmill, Linden Road Hebden Bridge
Until Sun 24th March 

Open Weds-Sun 11-4

"They live alongside us and enrich our lives whilst we have a devastating impact on theirs. This exhibition of paintings and illustrations is both a celebration of avian life and a requiem what is soon to be lost."
Jo Whitehead.

Blackbirds Bullfinch Goldfinches

Artist, Jo Whitehead studied Textiles at Harrow School of Art in the 1980s. She then worked as an illustrator in London before moving to Silsden in West Yorkshire in 1988.

For the past twenty years, Jo has worked as a glass artist, designing and making glass tableware. She started to paint three years ago after attending a workshop with Lesley Seeger at Helmsley. Her paintings are mostly about her suburban London childhood and the flora and fauna that was prevalent in the 1960s, "from the garden flowers my mother grew to the tranquillity of my father's allotment."

Turtle Doves Wren Wrens

"I paint the birds that shared our garden and family visits to Kew Gardens. Today, I grow mostly dahlias on my allotment and mourn the decline of many of our songbirds. Each painting starts life as a series of pencil studies until I build up a visual memory of the subject then I work through to the final composition. Before I transcribe the drawing to the canvas I make an underpainting of pure colour directly and I rely on this to become a dominant part of the finished work. Much of the painting is worked from light to dark, layering the paint to form the detail. I work mostly in acrylic paint and gouache. I show the stages of creating an artwork on my Instagram and Facebook."

Preservation and protection of wildlife and the countryside is what inspires Jo to keep on painting.

"Many of my bird paintings are inspired by the songbirds on my allotment including blackbirds, finches, tits, robins, wrens, warblers and starlings. Sadly, this wildlife habitat will be lost when planning applications have been submitted to build 800 luxury houses in Silsden that will stretch up across the fields to the hamlets of Swartha and Brunthwaite. I am part of the Silsden Campaign for the Countryside group that campaigns against the building of unaffordable houses on the green belt. Probably futile but I feel that I need to speak up for the birds."

You can see Resplendent Birds Exhibition at the Gallery Lounge, Artsmill, Linden Road. Hebden Bridge until 24 March.

This work will be exhibited at Harlow Carr in June 2019