Kingfisher – Alcedo atthis


I have never seen a Kingfisher sitting on a branch giving me the opportunity to take in its beauty.  My experience is of a flash of turquoise and a disappearing view of the bird departing.

Steve Waddingham is one of many generous photographers who allow me to base pieces on their work.  Please take a look at his other photographs on his Flickr site here

‘Kingfishers are small unmistakable bright blue and orange birds of slow moving or still water. They fly rapidly, low over water, and hunt fish from riverside perches, occasionally hovering above the water’s surface. They are vulnerable to hard winters and habitat degradation through pollution or unsympathetic management of watercourses. Kingfishers are amber listed because of their unfavourable conservation status in Europe. They are also listed as a Schedule 1 species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act offering them additional protection’ RSPB.

According to the ancient Greeks, kingfishers built their nests on a raft of fish bones and, having laid their eggs, they set the nest afloat on the Mediterranean sea and incubated the eggs for seven days before and after the winter solstice.

 It was said the gods always made sure that the seas and winds were calmed during this period. The Greek name for Kingfisher is halcyon, leading to the term ‘halcyon days’.  This was originally a reference to the calm and fine weather at this time in Greece. We now use the term to refer fondly on remembered times in our past.

I made this piece as an entry to this years Society of Graphic Fine Art exhibition and was fortunate enough to have it accepted.  The exhibition was due to be at The Mall Gallery in London but was unfortunately postponed due to Covid.

There are few birds in the UK that allow you to use such vibrant colours when selecting your fabric and threads.  Below the process started with layered fabrics and then painted details to give me direction and detail once stitching.

Below, the bird is almost finished, the majority of the thread painting done using the machine.  The more vibrant threads produced by Oliver Twist and King Tut were used in this piece.  The back feathers were hand stitched in a hoop.

Whenever I visit a Flea market or vintage fair I look out for old threads.  It can be a risk as some have degraded and break very easily.  Usually though they are still great quality and the range of colours are just stunning, these two Sylko threads were a joy to use.

Once the majority of stitching was complete I cut the outline of the bird away from its backing with a very sharp scissors and offered it up to my chosen backing.

 I wanted the bird to sit on a branch and the final image below (yet to be scanned so not great quality) shows the finished piece with the bird on his lichen covered branch above the water.