I’m grateful for a garden. The cleaner air and the locked in cats mean the garden is full of birds. Chattering, arguing, fluttering, moving birds. It is this movement I’ve been capturing, in lines and brush strokes via a system of drawing machines. Imagine a tiny inner city garden, just big enough for a little apple tree and an elder that planted itself. From those trees hang bird feeders, and from the feeders hang trays holding paper, or string with pens attached. When the birds land on the feeders, the suspended drawing devices move, and create pictures.
For the first 12 days of June I meticulously documented the movement of birds and wind through these machines. My morning routine was to type the weather forecast onto thick smooth paper. This was loaded into the machine with a pen to record the temperature of the day. The pen colour was changed every 2 degrees c. From 8am to 8pm the machine did it’s thing. The birds heavily bribed with fat balls in the feeder above. At night I changed the paper for fresh, with a forecast for 12 hours and the pen was dark.
One night the birds drew me a bird. That was the day after my cats escaped and ate one of them. The next day they drew me a tree. Was that a warning? Birds nesting here, please restrain your cats?
After 12 days I realised it was getting to me. I started to whistle call and response songs to the blackbirds. The sparrows came within arms reach and I knew I’d never know the ‘immense world of delights closed by my senses five’. Blake was right. But I do have a nice collection of bird drawings.


The elements beat me. Overnight drawings were reducing to tiny scribbles. In the rain the paper swells, stopping the movement of the pen.

So, that is the end of that little lockdown research project.

I’ve blogged about it on my site and made a PDF of all the images if anyone wants a bit of bird art for free.


It was a warm and still day, wind mostly from the west.

The baby birds are getting braver and visiting the feeder now. More birds visit the platform with the paper on too.

Most of the movement comes from the birds flying off the feeder, they push it away, which moves the pen below.