The full title of this painting is ‘The Great Wave of Trees and the Revenge of the Swifts’. I painted this during an Open Studio when I had a lot of time. It is a companion piece to ‘No Mean Preacher’ and was born out of my anger and frustration with human ignorance and hatred. Rather than the song thrush, this time swifts are the featured bird, but this wasn’t planned.
I was in Bath for the day, and walking through the streets of the hideous Southgate shopping mall, built of concrete with a facade of Bath Stone. Looking at the treeline I imagined the trees rushing through the mall like a tsunami, sweeping away the middle managers, executive assistants, and foolish shoppers. At the same time, I imagined swifts, perhaps the most extraordinary and magical of birds, swooping down and shrieking at the fleeing office workers. It’s a fantasy I would really like to become fact – and in a way, it will. Because of climate disaster and the failure of capitalism systems begin to sunder. It will be a time of great hardship, but the future may be better if people realise that we must live with the world, not off it.
Sometime after painting Revenge of the Swifts, someone on social media reminded me of Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’. The strange thing is that I hadn’t thought of the film once until that point – but of course, the connection is very clear.