Inspired by turtle doves – art raising funds for special bird

Turtle doves have long been part of our culture. Most people will know them from the Christmas carol, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, but they also feature in poetry, pop songs and paintings. With their beautiful plumage and patterns, turtle doves continue to inspire artists to this day.

Richard Baines of the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project, a National Lottery Heritage Fund project, has brought together a selection of turtle dove inspired artworks in a new exhibition. Some hugely talented artists have contributed to the exhibition that seeks to raise awareness of, and funds for, this special bird.

The Saving Turtle Doves exhibition has been jointly hosted by the ‘Inspired by…’ gallery in Danby near Whitby and the Low Dalby Courtyard in Dalby Forest near Scarborough. The exhibition features works by celebrated artists including Alan Hunt, Darren Woodhead, Jo Ruth and Jonathan Pomroy. The artists have pieces for sale in the exhibition and have donated works to a silent auction, the proceeds of which will go to the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove project.

Image: Darren Woodhead at work, painting a turtle dove in watercolour. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: Darren Woodhead at work, painting a turtle dove in watercolour. Credit: Jos Ashpole.

Silent auction

If you’d like to own your very own piece of turtle dove art and support turtle dove conservation in North Yorkshire, the silent auction closes on Sunday 13th October. Head down to the Low Dalby Courtyard in Dalby Forest to check out the artworks.

You can find out more about the exhibition here: https://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/visiting/see-and-do/inspired-by-gallery/future/2019/saving-turtle-doves

 Celebratory reception

Earlier in October, the project hosted a reception at the ‘Inspired by…’ gallery in Danby to celebrate the exhibition. The reception also offered members of the public the chance to meet some of the amazing artists who have contributed their work, and to bid on the artwork.

Image: Saving Turtle Doves exhibition at the ‘Inspired by…’ gallery in Danby, North Yorkshire. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: Saving Turtle Doves exhibition at the ‘Inspired by…’ gallery in Danby, North Yorkshire. Credit: Jos Ashpole.

Protecting doves in North Yorkshire

The North Yorkshire Turtle Dove project is a National Lottery Heritage Fund project and is now in its third and final year of funding. The project covers some 100,000 ha in North Yorkshire, within which there are estimated to be 50-100 pairs of turtle doves. Richard Baines and his team of volunteers have been working with farmers to create suitable habitats for these special birds. They’ve not been doing it alone though, they’ve been working with Forestry England, the North and East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre, RSPB, Scarborough Borough Council and the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They’ve also been involved in educational work to raise awareness of the turtle dove and its precarious situation. Funds from the silent auction will go towards ensuring the project continues once its three years of funding are over.

Art in real time

Renowned wildlife artist Darren Woodhead has contributed two paintings to the exhibition and was on hand at the reception to provide a live demonstration of how he works. Working in watercolour, Darren creates amazing paintings, full of life and movement.

It was fascinating to see Darren at work, starting with a plain sheet of paper in just a short space of time a turtle dove had appeared out of the paints – its colours so true to life.

Darren contributed this ‘live’ painting to the silent auction. Joining a pair of turtle doves and a study of bee-eaters that were already part of the exhibition.

Image: Darren Woodhead’s completed turtle dove painting. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: Darren Woodhead’s completed turtle dove painting, which he painted during the reception. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: Darren Woodhead’s two exhibition pieces. ‘Turtle Doves among Rowan Shadows’ on the left and ‘Bee-eater Studies’ on the right. The bee-eater painting features a turtle dove on the back and is included in the silent auction. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: Darren Woodhead’s two exhibition pieces. ‘Turtle Doves among Rowan Shadows’ on the left and ‘Bee-eater Studies’ on the right. The bee-eater painting features a turtle dove on the back and is included in the silent auction. Credit: Jos Ashpole.

Hearing from a master

Headlining the exhibition was world-famous wildlife artist Alan Hunt. Alan had contributed a magnificent painting of a pair of turtle doves and a painting of a male hoopoe at the nest. At the reception Alan spoke of his love of wildlife and how he uses his paintings to support conservation projects, such as the fantastic North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project.

Image: A ‘Pair of Turtle Doves’ by Alan M Hunt. Acrylic on canvas. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: A ‘Pair of Turtle Doves’ by Alan M Hunt. Acrylic on canvas. Credit: Jos Ashpole.

Inspiring art

It was great to see so much beautiful turtle dove-inspired art on show. From watercolour studies by Jonathan Pomroy to vivid acrylic and spray paint designs by Jo Ruth and many other works besides. The turtle dove is a delicate, charming bird and it was clear to see that the artists had captured the wonder that this species can inspire.

Image: Jonathan Pomroy’s ‘Turtle Dove Studies’ in watercolour. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: Jonathan Pomroy’s ‘Turtle Dove Studies’ in watercolour. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: Jo Ruth’s ‘Turtle Dove on a Wire’, acrylic and spray paint on paper. Credit: Jos Ashpole.
Image: Jo Ruth’s ‘Turtle Dove on a Wire’, acrylic and spray paint on paper. Credit: Jos Ashpole.

Doodle-a-dove

It’s not just the artists in the gallery who are raising awareness and funds for the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove project. Celebrities have got involved too. More than 30 celebrities ranging from Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman to Springwatch’s Chris Packham have sent in turtle dove ‘doodles’. These drawings are being auctioned on eBay, do head over to the site to check out the doodles and perhaps buy one for yourself – https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_odkw=doodle+a+dove&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=%22doodle+a+dove%22&_sacat=0.