On the 17th and 18th August at the 25th Birdfair AFON ran a brand new project; a children’s art mural. Every year at the Birdfair, all the professional artists come together to contribute to a giant mural. This year AFON decided to give all the children that attended the fair a chance to have a go at painting their own.
The mural was supervised by five AFON members: Tom Smith, Annie Ives, Zoe Moulton, Beth Aucott and Steph Harris. To give all our young budding artists a background on which to begin, a large canvas was painted with a scene containing a tree, some grassland, a lake and plenty of sky before the event. The canvas was set up in a perfect spot near to the other children’s activities and was ready for the children to get started. Even before our arrival at the site, children were ready and waiting to make their mark on the mural. The children were asked to paint something related to nature but apart from that were allowed to paint whatever their hearts desired.
The enthusiasm and imagination of the children that took part really was inspiring. Amongst flocks of beautiful birds we had a skateboarding guinea pig, the Loch Ness monster, a dragon and a purple eared polar bear amongst many other fabulous bits of artwork. Talking to the children was educational to us all too; they were more than happy to tell us where you could find a bittern or that the reeds were being painted over the bearded tit because it liked to hide. It was clear straight away that there is an inbuilt interest for nature in children, none of them struggled to think of something to paint for long and it was really satisfying to give them a way to engage with and express this interest, and hopefully activities like this will help them develop the interest further rather than let it fade away.
The mural was a hit with everyone. Once they were drawn in the kids were very reluctant to leave, having to be pried away by parents wanting to move on to something else and we saw a few faces repeatedly over the weekend. Roy Dennis’ own daughter had to be convinced to go to her fathers’ talk – on the main events stage! Many of the adults wandering past hopefully asked if they could have a go to. The mural was really eye catching and in a perfect spot. Everything we heard about the mural was really positive whether coming from a parent or a passer-by who’d stopped to admire all the budding artists’ handiwork. They all loved that there was a chance for the children to get involved with no limits or rules.
Thanks to the wonderful generosity of both WildSounds and Christopher Helm Publishing some of the children were fortunate enough to win some fantastic wildlife books. At the end of the day names were picked at random and the lucky children were called back to collect their prizes.