Book Review – The Art Of Conservation

I picked up a copy of this book when Subbuteo Books cleared all their stock a couple of years ago, and as the Birdfair has been in the news this week I have reacquainted myself with it. The rather grandiose title is caveated with the sub-heading ’25 Years of Birdfair Posters’ which gives a more accurate feel for what it’s about.

Essentially the 64 pages are a catalogue of the iconic artwork by Robert Gillmor used to advertise the Rutland Water event between 1991 and 2013, with the exception of 2004 when the painting used was a hummingbird and parula by Lars Jonsson. But the book is also more than that, it’s an insight into the work of an acclaimed bird artist and how that has developed over time in the posters. There are examples of some of the rough sketches used to develop the idea to fruition, and some reflection on where better choices could have been made to suit the advertising poster format.

There is also narrative on the cause that was the beneficiary of the proceeds of the bird fair each year, and a concise summary of the species featuring. In years like 2008 where a number of species were featured this is the majority of the write up on the page facing the artwork. There’s also a note from Gillmor on his work.

If you have any interest in bird artwork or even poster advertising it’s well worth the couple of hours it would take you to take in both the pictures and the accounts.

Some readers will know that the birdfair in its original form at Rutland Water was discontinued permanently last year by the wildlife trust, then this week a new ‘Global Birdfair’ was announced to take place at the Rutland Showground over a weekend this July. This has not surprisingly provoked considerable debate about an event involving international travel to attend it and largely funded by bird tourism companies promoting their wares. It will be interesting to see how it fares in an increasingly carbon aware world, but at a time when many people are desperate to travel again post-pandemic.

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