Cry of the Curlew

1 February – 10 April 2024

Cry of the Curlew is a celebration of the Curlew and the upper Dales landscapes to which they have returned to breed every year since time immemorial. The graceful and elegant Curlew has iconic status in the Dales because of the impact made by the birds’ annual reappearances, their engaging presence whilst with us, and the absence felt when they depart.

They leave us with the hope and expectation of seeing them again, next year, but their survival is increasingly challenged. The exhibition highlights the issues facing the Curlew today through the stunning photography of Paco Valera, insightful poetry and prose by Barbara Murray, and inspiring artwork by Sally Zaranko, Hester Cox, Judith Bromley and Robert Nicholls. Swedish artists Emily Berry Mennerdahl and Jonas Böttern of Hillside Projects share a story of ecological collapse and Alastair McIntosh’s poem, Extinction is presented with the music of Loriana Pauli.

Artists Sarah Smith and Sue Harrison have been working with Settle and Kirkby Malham schools in the Craven area, exploring the plight of the Curlew following a farm visit to Hill Top Farm, Malham in June 2023. In response to this children have created quilted curlew landscapes using felt, posters, poems and paintings that will feature in the exhibition. This education work grows out of the Clapham Curlew Cluster – a group of 15 farms and 20 volunteers in the Clapham area collecting data on Curlew through wader surveys, working in partnership with the RSPB and supported by Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust. As part of this work June Gersten Roberts has created a film with farmers about their lived experience of Curlew allowing them to have their voices heard.

At a moment in history when many species including the beloved Curlew face the prospect of extinction, the exhibition highlights the wide-ranging custodial work taking place in and beyond the Dales to ensure that their chain of continuity is not broken in our time.

Paco Valera says “Our work aims to let “what is” speak for itself through photographic images, poetry and prose. To invite a closer look; to really see and to connect with what is there, and to awaken feeling, meaning and significance in the human experience, perhaps by a sense of renewal, and replenishment.