Shoreline, Skyline, Treetop Messenger: a permanent testament to those moments of thinking while doing

Posted on 29.12.2020

Jeanine Griffin, Associate Curator, introduces Juneau Projects’ commission Shoreline, Skyline, Treetop Messenger.

In the novel by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre mentally escapes an inhospitable domestic situation by hiding away to read Bewick’s ‘A History of British Birds’ *.  A lot of us found similar solace in birds whilst spending more time housebound during lockdown. Watching birds whose migratory route takes them across continents with no notion of national boundaries, at a time when travel was restricted and national boundaries more rigid, gives a sense of vicarious freedom.

Through this project I’ve learnt that this is even more pronounced around the east coast of England, as birds use areas on this coast as stop offs on the ‘East Atlantic Flyway’, the migratory route from the Arctic to Africa and vice versa. Climate changes or human impacts in one place on this route affect the bird populations in the others. The historic bird collection at North Lincolnshire Museum highlights the difference in biodiversity then and now, with various species in the collection either diminished or extinct.

Juneau Projects collaborate with people to produce artworks. Here the people have included bird scientists, members of a young curators’ group, and workshop participants from the local area. Often this process gently raises particular issues around nature and technology almost imperceptibly, while hands are busy doing something else, be that drawing, printing or sculpting. Shoreline, Skyline, Treetop Messenger is a permanent testament to those moments of thinking while doing, and places the historic bird collection in the context of urgent contemporary issues around biodiversity.

*Bewick was an iconic bird engraver.  Juneau Projects did a National Trust residency at his birthplace, Cherryburn, and produced the work Birds Want You To Listen To Their Songs in 2017.

View the digital version of Shoreline, Skyline, Treetop Messenger here. Copies of the book riso printed by the artists are available to buy directly through North Lincolnshire Museum.

Find out all about the project and hear directly from the artists and scientists involved here.

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