Tweeting Birds Exhibition- A message to missed loved ones during the pandemic

A new exhibition of work at Aspex by pupils from the Harbour School in Portsmouth, featuring painted and collaged birds ‘tweeting’ a message to someone they have missed during lockdown. The Harbour School’s Culture Capital Curriculum Lead Ashling McNamara has coordinated the project, inspired by the ‘Great British Bird Watch’, to promote pupils’ interest in the natural world and inspire them to explore different artistic techniques as a way to connect with missed loved ones during lockdown, both this year and last.

The exhibition is on display to the public from 19 May to 18 July 2021 at Aspex – Portsmouth’s leading contemporary art gallery, which works to engage audiences of all ages with visual art by delivering exhibitions, off-site projects and participation events. As an Alternative Provision and Special School in Portsmouth, the Harbour School provides education for pupils who – for reasons relating to Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) or medical needs – are unable to attend mainstream schools. The school exists to help pupils gain a sense of belonging and allows them to develop and improve not only their academic skills but their social and emotional skills too.

Both pupils and staff alike have enjoyed Tweeting Birds and how working towards a visual art piece has brought them together, and have described the artistic experience in their own words:

“Amazing project, it was calming to paint with watercolours. I enjoyed all of it. Thanks for inviting me to take part.” CCT (Class 8)

“Loved the project. I would definitely do it again. The project made me think about nature and the wildlife around me, as well as family I have missed in lockdown. I like the idea that I am now going to be an artist with work in a gallery, too. I hope to go and see it with my Mum and Dave.” KR (Class 8)

“I enjoyed the project and the invitation to be part of the class taking an active part in the painting. The tweeting bird song made me think of my sister, who I lost to cancer, as this was the sound she last heard as she slipped away from us.” Gail (support staff)