Flights of Urban Fancy

A major part of our brief at SOS is connected with education - during the course of the year we welcome many thousands of visitors to Stonham, and of course we visit (and are visited by) a variety of schools and other local youth groups eager to learn more about owls and their way of life.

To be properly prepared, we have to do a fair bit of research on our subject and this takes many forms, including books, the internet and learning from the good old-fashioned experience of others. But this week our research took an unusual turn, when we visited an exhibition in London dedicated to anything and everything to do with OWLS.

The exhibition was organised in conjunction with the World Owl Trust, a charity based in Cumbria whose
work involves owl conservation and rehabilitation on a national & global scale and to whom a percentage of profits from the sales of paintings at the exhibition were donated. It was a truly fascinating and inspiring experience!

For a variety of reasons, Owls have excited and inspired artists through the ages but this exhibition, entitled “HOO WOT”, brought together the work of contemporary artists from all over the world. It included the work of 36 painters, street artists, sculptors, fashion designers and many more from incredibly diverse backgrounds and cultures, all involved in producing their own unique visions of the Owl.  

The most interesting aspect of the show for me was, by far, the number of urban street artists - or GRAF (grafitti) artists as they are known - that have been inspired by the beauty of Owls to create some unusual and imaginative artworks.

The way these artists have combined their own individual street styles with the overall imagery of the owls was well worth seeing!  A good example of this fusion of URBAN street culture and RURAL wildlife can be seen in the image at the top of this story featuring a Barn Owl with its wings made up of graffiti-style lettering, created by a Graf artist named Dvate, and by the owl with its wing-feather pattern made up of skulls featured below...

Apart from being visually interesting, these pieces of artwork reinforced our belief that inner-city kids and urban street artists can be just as passionate and concerned about the environment as those of us that work directly with wildlife on a day-to-day basis. This exhibition gave us at S.O.S. many leads and ideas as to how we can connect with a young, contemporary audience who might otherwise appear disinterested.

Perhaps if we can all remain as passionate, focussed and committed about the environmental issues that have concerned and inspired these artists, there just might be a chance that we can save and preserve our native wildlife and the environment in which it lives for future generations, and encourage them to be equally inspired!

The Hoo-Wot! exhibition will shortly be moving to Hastings and is well worth a visit - if you would like more details then please email Ben at hoowot@gmail for information.