Realm Of The Oystercatcher 2010

This four large-scale light boxes and one photographic mural work were created for The State Hospital at Carstairs. The imagery for these related to the life cycle of Oystercatchers, a community of which live in and around the grounds of the Hospital. This bird is traditionally associated with costal locations where it feeds almost exclusively on cockles, but amongst its coastal relatives, it has made a remarkable adaptation to living successfully away from it’s usual surrounds to use its chisel-shaped bill, effective at smashing shell fish, to instead probe for earthworms in its new inland environments. As all at the hospital know, these birds can become very territorial during the breeding season; they have a strong site fidelity, defending the same site for 20 years. Their nests are simple affairs, usually just a small arrangement of stones on the ground, often unlined, where their eggs are perfectly camouflaged and from where, chicks can fledge with ease (many of these are found between the two perimeter fences that enclose the site). Their ground level location would normally make them prone to attack from various predator (gulls, foxes, cats, hedgehogs etc) – in the grounds of the hospital however they live relatively predator free and make use of flat roofs, as such the site provides many breeding pairs with a uniquely sheltered home to which it has lent a distinctive acoustic accompaniment– it’s piping  “kleep, keep” call – a sound that remains with many who pass through the hospital.

Commissioned by The State Hospital, Scotland, managed by Art in Partnership.