Northumberland bird hide is a work of art

The bird hide on Coquet Island.
The bird hide on Coquet Island.

A bird hide has travelled from Coquet Island to London to moonlight as an art installation.

During the breeding season, the hide is used as night shelter for RSPB wardening staff, protecting rare roseate tern nests from egg thieves.

However, the structure has now been moved to the Forge Venue in Camden where it forms the centrepiece of live pop-up art studio, Ghosts of Gone Birds, which is part of the wider Camden Migration Festival, running until October 6.

Eleven artists are creating a series of pieces around the hide, inspired by extinct birds. Visitors to the gallery will be invited to enter the hide and furtively watch the artists at work.

Award-winning blacksmith Stephen Lunn originally created the 6ft x 6ft hide in 2005. Since then, RSPB staff and volunteers, as well as the North Sea, have left their mark.

Today it resembles a miniature version of the Trinity lighthouse on Coquet Island. In place of a giant bulb, there is a disco ball, which bathes the inside of the hide with shards of light at dawn. Warmth is provided by a bespoke wood burning stove, forged in the shape of a clam.

Wesley Davies, assistant warden at Coquet Island, said: “What began life as a basic shelter has gradually developed its own unique character and evolved into a work of art. I think it will look very at home in the Forge.”

Chris Aldhous, curator of Ghost of Gone Birds project, said: ‘When Wesley offered us the hide we knew we wanted to feature it. The Live Art Studio at the Forge offers visitors the perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in the Coquet Island experience, whilst watching the Ghosts artists in their natural habitat, breathing life back into Gone Birds.”

Charlotte Caird, artistic director of the Forge Venue, said: The Camden Migration Festival is an exploration into the migration of birds and people through the arts, celebrating cultural expansion but also considering its environmental impact, particularly on bird extinction.

“The bird hide represents the positive impact that man can have on bird populations, as well as being an interesting and rather beautiful piece of furniture, full of weather-beaten stories and a real-life connection to migratory birds and those who choose to protect them.”

The hide’s journey from Coquet Island to Camden has been partly funded by Northumberland Tourism.

Jude Leitch, general manager of Northumberland Tourism, said: “We’re delighted to help bring a little bit of beautiful Northumberland to Camden. We hope visitors to Ghosts of Gone Birds will be inspired to support bird conservation and also perhaps consider a visit to Northumberland to see our rare bird species in their natural habitats.”