North East Connected

Sunderland academic’s project takes flight with National Lottery support

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 15.23.41THE University of Sunderland has received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project exploring the work of a renowned 20th Century bird illustrator.

Dr Mike Collier’s project – Ripples From The House on the Shore: Eric Ennion, Art and Illustration, is an exploration of Ennion’s life, whose drawings of native British birds appeared in print for more than six decades, capturing the movement, posture and behaviour of a bird as well as its marking and colouration.

The exhibition has been organised and curated by Dr Shirley Wheeler, Reader, University of Sunderland, and will be the first time the public will be able to engage with Ennion’s extensive body of work through a series of planned engagement activities.

Memories and stories of Ennion, who spent the 1950s living and working on the Northumberland coast, will be collected from his family members, as well as from individuals, who have been influenced by his ornithology work, culminating in an exhibition at Sunderland Museum.

To launch the exhibition, there will be a community event beginning with a walk and bird-watching session at Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn, followed by an exhibition preview at the museum. Activities include workshops in bird identification, bird ringing, wildlife drawing and research sessions at the Natural History Society of Northumbria’s archives (NHSN).

In addition, four workshops in wildlife drawing will be offered to schools. This will result in a resource which will accompany items from the natural history handling collection at Sunderland Museum.

Dr Collier is a Reader in Fine Art who lectures on the University’s Art and Design Foundation, Fine Art and MA Curating courses as well as teaching a number of national and international PhD students. His research work explores the interrelated nature of ecological and cultural ideas through a detailed study of local environments and, through walking, engagement with `landscape’.

Commenting on the award, Dr Collier said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, allowing the public to share in this unique opportunity to see the drawings and illustrations of Eric Ennion – widely regarded by bird enthusiasts as one of the best bird illustrators – and a hero to many young, budding, natural history illustrators. His drawings are full of life and energy and capture the spirit of the bird.

“This exhibition will be a rich treat for anyone interested in wildlife, natural history and ornithology.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this project which will celebrate the incredible contributions Eric Ennion made to our understanding of Northumberland’s wildlife and inspire new audiences to connect with our natural heritage in an exciting and creative way.”

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