Birds, Beasties and Bewick

Beautifully engraved Skylark by artist Phoebe Connolly

Capturing the spirit of Cherryburn and Tyneside through observations and encounters in the landscape, in the Spring and Summer of 2021, Phoebe Connolly's installation of finely detailed engraved glass hoped to inspire you to reconnect with nature by looking closely at the wildlife that resides at this quiet and understated North East property.

This year Cherryburn welcomed a wonderful exhibition, Birds, Beasties and Bewick, which brought the work of young artist Phoebe Connolly to the half parlour and cottage garden.

The inspiration of both the place and Thomas Bewick himself, led Phoebe to create an exquisite series of engravings, with the finest of details.

In Phoebe’s own words “I’ve grown up surrounded by birds and I’m always drawing them.  Thomas Bewick was renowned for the amount of detail he worked in and we have a shared passion for birds.  I’ll be working with glass engraving alongside wood engraving to create a large-scale installation.  I’m hoping people can reconnect with nature and look closely in the same way that I do when I’m drawing and creating the engravings.”

Artist Phoebe Connolly - Birds, Beasties and Bewick at Cherryburn
Artist Phoebe Connolly - Birds, Beasties and Bewick at Cherryburn
Artist Phoebe Connolly - Birds, Beasties and Bewick at Cherryburn

The new works of art for Cherryburn were made specifically for the half parlour. The 20 glass panels combined observational studies with memories and imagination of the plants and creatures that inhabit the landscape in which Cherryburn sits. From fleeting glimpses to careful study, she recorded these moments across the panels of glass creating a space for the mind to wander and reflect on how the landscape has changed since Thomas Bewick’s time.

Working on the glass with a diamond burr as an engraving tool allowed Phoebe to achieve fine detail, as well as working with light and transparency. This was especially important when creating the panels for the half parlour, an intimate space that has little natural light. Taking into account the challenges of this environment, Phoebe created an installation that invited the visitor to look closely, looking longer and deeper at the beauty of nature created by her unique talent as an engraver.

About the artist                         

Phoebe Connolly graduated from West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, West Sussex in 2020. A young artist whose work responds to her surroundings and the natural life that exists within it, her attention to detail and her acute observation of the insects, birds, mammals and fauna that inhabit our world chimes perfectly with the work of Thomas Bewick.

Phoebe spent time in Northumberland before the Pandemic struck and her visits curtailed. Those short few months had a profound impact on her work and provided her with enough resource material to make new engravings for Cherryburn. The results are shown here in the museum and in Thomas Bewick’s birthplace where her intricate, glass panels sit naturally within the intimacy of the half parlour space.

Birds, Bewick & Beasties is a Trust New Art project developed and programmed by National Trust, supported using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and produced with support from Arts&Heritage in partnership with the Society of Wood Engravers.