RSPB Cymru launches campaign with unveiling of sculpture

Carwyn Evans.

Monday 19 April 2021

Red kite sculpture outside Cardiff Castle celebrates the revival of an iconic Welsh bird.

  • Revive Our World campaign calls for Welsh Government leadership to implement a Green Recovery
  • Welsh music prize winner releases nature inspired single promoting campaign

Today, RSPB Cymru is unveiling a huge red kite sculpture outside Cardiff Castle. The sculpture, made from eco-friendly resources, represents the astonishing revival of one of our most notable and loved birds in Wales.

Running alongside the launch of the campaign, RSPB Cymru is thrilled to announce that Welsh music prize winner The Gentle Good (Gareth Bonello) will be releasing a brand-new single titled Revival, which will be available to download on Spotify from Friday 23 April. It also marks the launch of Revive Our World, an RSPB campaign that pushes for legally binding targets to restore nature by 2030 and for a green recovery from the pandemic across the UK.

The sculpture was designed and built by north Wales based artist Sarah Wardlaw. It will feature an augmented reality (AR) projection which will light up the red kite when on display, to give the public and online audience an uplifting and celebratory experience.

The unveiling of the sculpture and the release of the single is part of RSPB Cymru’s Revive Our World, a campaign calling for a green and just future for Wales. In less than three weeks, voters in Wales will visit the polling stations and elect the next Welsh Government. RSPB Cymru is calling for the next Welsh Government to show true leadership and implement a Green Recovery that will tackle the nature and climate emergency and deliver access to nature for everyone and improve public health and well-being. The campaign calls for the next Welsh Government to put in motion a just and Green Recovery that will benefit people and planetthrough a wave of green jobs, environmental protections, resilient and rich land seas, healthy citizens and strong leadership.

Artist Sarah Wardlaw said:

’I am delighted to have been commissioned to create this work for RSPB's Revive Our World campaign. The red kite is a phenomenal conservation success story in Wales, but a stark reminder of just how fragile life is and why we should cherish it.

“With this commission, I am using a combination of traditional blacksmithing with use augmented reality (AR) to give the illusion of flight or existence of spirit. The principle of flight, navigation, and the magic of altitude is something to aspire. As an artist, I believe we can collectively help prevent extinction and protect wildlife if we use our individual stories and give our imagination the freedom to unfold and be limitless. If species die, our dreams die with them.’’

In Wales, the red kite symbolises the power of action like no other. Despite this graceful bird being prominent in the UK for centuries, persecution led to steep decline in numbers. Here in Wales over the past 30 years, we’ve seen a huge increase and seeing the numbers grow gives us a beacon of hope that it is possible to revive our world. This is a once in a generation opportunity to take action to improve our future.

The song also features the evocative call of the curlew which is in desperate need of revival. Once a common bird in Wales, the numbers have declined drastically, and has declined by 70% since 1995. There is now grave concern that the curlew could be extinct in Wales within the next 13 years unless significant action is taken. This is a once in a generation opportunity to take action to improve our future.

Singer songwriter Gareth Bonello said:

“Nature has been an essential part of my life ever since I was little. I started volunteering with the RSPB when I was 14 years old, then went on to study zoology at university. I briefly worked as a professional ornithologist and nature has always been an inspiration to me as a composer.

“The song borrows y Celtic goddess Rhiannon and her mystical birds, who can sing people to sleep and, revive the dead. I didn’t want to hide the fact that we’re in the middle of a climate emergency, and that time is running out to slow down and change the damage we’re creating. We must find a way of being more environmentally friendly and the song emphasises that responsibility. I’m passionate about nature and conservation and was very comfortable writing revival. The Welsh version came first but am very happy that the English words fit so well with the melody. Due to lockdown rules and the ongoing pandemic I recorded the entire song at home, which was quite challenging but gave me time to learn a lot as well.” 

Naturalist and TV presenter, Iolo Williams, said:

“It was a pleasure and a privilege being a part of the team protecting red kites in mid Wales during the 1980’s and 90’s. I remember spending a lot of weekends and holidays doing our best to protect the nests from poachers, but looking at how successful this beautiful bird has been since then, it was worth every second.

“The campaign to protect the red kite worked better than anyone of us could have hope for, but the time has come now to protect nature in general. We are in a crisis and if we don’t work together now, we are facing a very troubled world in the future.”

RSPB Cymru Director, Katie-jo Luxton said:

“The success of the red kite in Wales is an example of what is possible with the right protection and support put in place. This year provides enormous opportunities, which come at a time when we need urgent change to revive our world. Later on this year, two global summits on biodiversity and climate change will take place and the upcoming elections in Wales gives each and every one of us the opportunity to shape the future of nature that we want. What better way of showcasing the potential for nature revival than with a beautiful sculpture of the iconic red kite." 

ENDS

Notes:

1. Augmented Reality is a technology that directly overlays digital effects onto a real-world 3D surface.

2. More information about RSPB Cymru’s 5 steps to a Green Recovery can be found here.

3. The full State of Birds in the UK report can be found here. The Welsh summary is on page 21-26.

4. Katie-jo Luxton added: “The proven success of the red kite revival shows that if we all pull in the same direction it is possible to revive and thrive in nature. The collective effort between nature lovers, farmers, tourist businesses and the Gurkhas who protected their nests means we’re now at a point where there are now over 2,500 breeding pairs.”

5. More information about RSPB Cymru’s Revive Our World campaign can be found here.

Last Updated: Thursday 22 April 2021

Tagged with: Country: Wales Topic: Wales Topic: Wales Topic: Campaigns