BCAF NEWS

Celebrating Biodiversity at BCAF

With our blog this week we wish to focus on Art and Biodiversity. But what is Biodiversity exactly? In simple words, the term Biodiversity refers to the enormous variety of life on Earth and it can be used to describe all the different species and organisms living in one particular area. Biodiversity is all varieties of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms like bacteria. These all work together to maintain balance and therefore support all elements, such as food, clean water, and shelter, needed for life in ecosystems. While it is true that many species have yet to be discovered, it is also true that many are being threatened with extinction due to human activity, with factors such as excessive use of land and resources, climate change and pollution playing a significant role. In 2022, WWF has reported a 69% decline in global populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians since 1970.

Stephen Davis Photography - Fritillary Dew Dance

Issues like this are of vital importance, but they can often feel as something distant, overwhelming, stressful, and even difficult to understand. They often tend to appear as a matter for someone else, possibly “more intelligent”, to resolve. Apart from the fact that we are all intelligent in different ways, the truth is that everyone can understand and be involved, and creativity is a very good way to encourage this involvement. Focusing on Biodiversity, a good starting point is having an opportunity to admire it, which very easily generates a desire to preserve it.

Artists have always played a big part in celebrating Biodiversity, simply because many of them choose to represent the world around them. So they share with us their experience of the exact place where they are in a certain moment. As we are all surely aware, history is full of illustrious examples, including, of course, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo in two very distant parts of the world. We are very keen to show how the BCAF artists are celebrating Biodiversity, and today we will start with three of them, who exhibited their work in the April 2024 edition.

Stephen Davis Photography - Spring Greens (from Savernake Forest gallery)

Stephen is a naturalist and an ecologist, as well as a photographer, with a fulfilling career both in Europe and in the UK.

His artwork is a clear expression of how passionate he is about fostering a love and respect for Nature, with a recognition of everybody’s important role in maintaining and supporting it, in the face of many environmental challenges.

While admiring Stephen’s impressive photographs, two of them immediately stand out for us. Looking at the “Fritillary Dew Dance” (on the first page), we feel mesmerised in front of the magic played by the dew with the light on those beautiful and delicate white bell flowers. Talking to Stephen, we understand that we are having the privilege to stand in front of some examples of Snakeshead Fritillary (Fritillaria Meleagris), a member of the Lily family which, once abundant everywhere in the Thames Valley, is now rare and confined to thirty meadows in England. Luckily for us, Fritillaries can still be found in the Upper Waterhay in Wiltshire, although the white populations have in recent years become particularly threatened by the effects of climate change. The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is taking good care of them, and paying a visit (better starting from mid-April) sounds like a great opportunity not only to admire these beautiful flowers, but also to learn what we can all do to help.

The second photo (Spring Greens, just above) takes us to the enchanted atmosphere of Savernake Forest, showing us one of the very fine Ancient Oak Trees. These magnificent creatures, as Stephen explains, are home to a myriad plants, insects, birds, and mammals. While many of them are older than 600 years, the history of the forest goes back for a thousand years or more. We are not surprised to find out that Savernake Forest, which is located South of Marlborough and supports more ancient trees than anywhere else in Europe, is a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), as well as a registered important historic park. A day out there is definitely now on our agenda!

All Sarah’s pictures are extremely charming, and we are particularly captivated by her British Bees and British Butterflies, which were drawn and painted with the clear intention of showing not just something beautiful and colourful, but also to highlight the importance of these species in our ecosystems. Sarah loves travelling and walking, and these wonderful watercolours are the result of meticulous observation of the species she has seen both in her garden and during strolls, followed by careful research at home.

Sarah Jane Evans - British Butterflies

Sarah is an urban designer specialised in town and city centre regeneration, as well as new residential development. She is on a mission to convince developers to include more green space, and therefore more habitats for Nature, in their planning. Sarah is also an artist and illustrator, as well as a calligrapher. Her exquisite artwork is an invitation for everyone, as she explains, to appreciate how beautiful, delicate, and fragile the natural world is, and at the same time is a prompt to look after it. 

As a direct expression of her skills and expertise, Sarah often chooses to represent the interaction between nature and the built environment.

Sarah Jane Evans – British Butterflies

 

All Sarah’s pictures are extremely charming, and we are particularly captivated by her British Bees and British Butterflies, which were drawn and painted with the clear intention of showing not just something beautiful and colourful, but also to highlight the importance of these species in our ecosystems.

Sarah loves travelling and walking, and these wonderful watercolours are the result of meticulous observation of the species she has seen both in her garden and during strolls, followed by careful research at home.                                                             

                                                                                                                       Sarah Jane Evans – British Bees

As a starting point for her artwork, Sarah has used a mixture of photos taken by herself or by her own friends and family. Sarah can tell us all the names of her bees and butterflies. The Adonis Blue (Polyommatus Bellargus), for example, is the rarest of the blue butterflies in the UK, and is protected in this country under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. It can be found in Southern England from May to September on sunny, south-facing grassland that is rich in herbs. The Wildlife Trust plays and important role for the benefit of all kinds of butterflies, for example via hay-cutting at the right time.

Tina, who runs Madartbird, is an artist based in the beautiful town of Devizes. Tina has chosen Art as her career, particularly due to her lifelong interest both in Art and Wildlife. Her motivation, she explains, comes from a desire to highlight the beauty of the Wildlife around us, and to encourage people to look out for the flora and fauna on their doorstep on a daily basis. Tina drives most of her inspiration from the gorgeous Wiltshire countryside and her impressive artwork is hand drawn using oil-based colour pencil

 

Madartbird – Kingfisher

 

Tina is also a trained photographer, which gives her the confidence and skills to take her own photographs. These, together with photos kindly taken by local photographers, are often a starting point for her drawings. Her pencil has immortalized a particular colourful Kingfisher, known as a bit of a local celebrity in Bradford upon Avon, as well as Barney the Barn Owl who, at least at the time when the photo was taken, enjoyed dwelling on Salisbury Plain.

                                                                  Madartbird – Barn Owl

Tina does not miss an occasion to share the beauty she faces day after day, and this also means bringing beautiful images back to the UK every time she travels. Her drawings of the Baby Elephants and Zig the Zebra, the former very sweet and the second very charming, are impressive souvenirs from a holiday in Kenia last year. Tina is currently working on a cheetah, as part of the same series.

As well as thanks to conversations with the featured artists, this blog has been written using information from the following websites:

www.worldwildlife.org

www.nationalgeographic.org

www.stephendavisphotography.com

www.wiltshirewildlife.org

www.forestryengland.uk

www.sarahjaneart.com

www.wildlifetrusts.org

www.madartbird.co.uk

Madartbird – Zig the Zebra
Madartbird - Baby Elephants

BCAF Plans For The Future – The Gallery

Exciting developments at Bath Contemporary Artists’ Fair! We are currently in talks about the potential of opening a new Art Gallery at Green Park Station.

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Space Guide

  • Standard Space (2.5m x 2m)
  • Standard Space + table (2.5m x 2m, table approx 185cms x 75cms)
  • Professional Stand – 1m deep x 2m wide x 2.3m high. The stands are covered in black fabric and can be nailed or screwed into. The stands also come with a table and black table cloth.