Every winter, huge flocks of starlings put on a spectacular display on the seafront of Aberystwyth, Wales, during their nightly commute to roost on the pier. They gather in vast numbers and perform their beautiful acrobatics, known as ‘murmurations’. The same spectacle plays out every single year. But all around the world, while nature’s rhythms were unaffected, our winter looked quite different.
As birds migrated south and animals stocked up their fat stores for the cold season, the huge crowds of friends, family and strangers that would have gathered to celebrate the new year, did not. In a year unlike any other, London’s streets were deserted, with only Big Ben’s familiar ringing breaking through the silence. The Champs Elysée was hauntingly quiet, as all over the world towns and cities were back in lockdown or tied down with new restrictions against the invisible enemy, coronavirus.
Many of us are spending our winter alone, but I’m quietly optimistic about the future. Though this wasn’t the year any of us expected, we can look forward to the day when we can return to our flock and reminisce on the year that wasn’t.
This painting brings together the colours of the cosmos with the iridescent hues of the solitary starling. The starling watches the scene with quiet hope. Its flecks of white are mirrored in the starry background.
When the pandemic struck, it was hard to keep on creating. But I had inspiration in an older watercolour painting using my favourite colour palette of pinks and blues, and the little life that was growing inside me. Waiting for my child to be born, longing for outdoors and wishing to return to my flock – this was my 2020.
This piece was created in acrylics instead of oils, and it was great to accept the challenge of this new fast-drying medium. I suppose I should learn to work faster now I have a new baby in the house!
Wishing everyone a safe and prosperous new year ahead.
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