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Monday, 27 April 2020

Phil's Blog - 27 April
Peregrine greetings cards by Ruth Churchill

Phil's Blog - 27 April

The anticipation is building! On 22 March when the first egg was laid, I looked forward, flicking through diary pages in my head....maybe a chick on 30 April to coincide with the Cathedral's celebratory 800 year service? Unfortunately that will not now be the case, the service inevitably cancelled due to Covid restrictions, but maybe a Mayday chick? We'll see. Any day now, but some day this week we can be confident.

I am reminded that it was at this stage 6 years ago in 2014 that my partner, Ruth, an artist, was busy in her studio - beautiful images appearing from her palette. Today, it's a real pleasure to have a 'guest' blog from Ruth on her reflections of drawing our peregrines:

What a fantastic opportunity!.....My partner, Phil, had been determined to see the peregrines back at the Cathedral after 61 years of absence and now it was actually happening! As an artist, I'd had an idea to produce a set of greetings cards to mark the occasion and now was the chance to do it. I work locally using my skills as an illustrator, producing artwork and printing cards and posters. We are both passionate about nature and I often use wildlife as a subject.

No modern digital artwork for me, I am a traditional watercolourist. I use my 'old fashioned' dip pen and black ink to create an image often redrawn many times, and then stretch the watercolour paper onto my drawing board (to prevent it from wrinkling) before adding the colour. The only problem is that there are no second chances using this technique, one slip of the pen, a splodge or splatter of ink or paint and the whole image is ruined!

Back to 2014... the clock was ticking! The peregrines were incubating 3 eggs and I wanted to produce my cards to coincide with the chicks hatching. So I worked hard on the drawings and the more I watched the peregrines the more fascinated I was by them, and not just by their behaviour. Their incredible features and markings pose an artistic challenge; a wonderfully vicious beak and outrageous talons made them a fabulous subject to draw.

I enjoyed using artistic licence to portray the characters of the adult peregrines gazing into each others eyes somewhere high up on the Cathedral tower and the 3 chicks as they balance precariously on a stone cross whilst not much more than balls of fluff. In the third image I needed to increase the prominence of the birds in flight against the otherwise dwarfing size of the Cathedral, so again used licence to exaggerate their size in relation to the iconic spire.

It was great that the Cathedral liked the images and asked me to print them for the shop, and also because they've proved very popular over the years!

Ruth Churchill

See more of Ruth's work by clicking the link