The Overwintering Project

The Overwintering Project is a national program developed by Kate Gorringe-Smith to raise awareness of migratory shorebirds and to make them and their habitat visible.

Eastern Curlew, Deep Creek, Valla, endangered in NSW

The Coffs Harbour contribution has four components, including:

  • Artworks by local printmakers, ie the North Coast component of The Overwintering Project;
  • Prints created by local high school students through an interdisciplinary project;
  • A selection of artist books created by members of the Book Art Object collective;
  • Transmigration: a parallel exhibition by sculptor Jeremy Sheehan about ocean plastic and seabirds involving 22 Pacific Islands, Coffs Harbour TAFE Students and presented at Sculpture by the Sea in 2015.

I will be working with students on creating poetry for this event and have been making videos, taking photographs and writing poetry to inspire the Book Art Object collective.

Eastern Curlew, Deep Creek, Valla

Thirty seven species of shorebirds migrate regularly to Australia and New Zealand for their non-breeding season, the overwintering period. Of these thirty seven, twenty nine species overwinter in the Coffs Coast region, but they are suffering population declines.

There’s no marketing, no eye-catching feature

in the low wattage chiaroscuro, a smear

of beige sand or khaki mud, the scenario

of Clare’s ‘dreariest place’, somewhat similar

to an empty street, repaying attention

for when the invisible becomes visible again.

I found the poems in the fields
And only wrote them down.               John Clare, ‘Sighing for Retirement’

Have you ever flown into Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport? Many thousands of migratory shorebirds used to fly in to the flat tidal zone around November, It was an important feeding ground then the airport grew and constructed a runway out into the bay. Birds still arrive but in much smaller numbers. Coastal development is a key reason for the worldwide decline of shore birds.

Video Margins – Eastern Curlew, The Overwintering Project

Opens at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Friday 6 Dec, 2019.