Poultry Peo­ple

Art in­spired by hens

Your Chickens - - Contents -

Who, or what first got you in­ter­ested in keep­ing chick­ens – and how long ago? My friend Oliver kept chick­ens, which we al­ways spoke about, but I just couldn’t de­cide whether chicken-keep­ing was for me. He took the de­ci­sion out of my hands by leav­ing five of them on my doorstep one day – and that was 19 years ago!

What were the breeds? We started with Pekin ban­tams and slowly added to our flock, but we have al­ways had ban­tams of all sorts and colours, rang­ing from small to very small. I love ban­tams… I find their colours and mark­ings beau­ti­ful and fas­ci­nat­ing, but I also love the way they seem to love life. I love the way they sun­bathe and join me in the gar­den when I’m weed­ing… they dust and scratch and chat away to one an­other and me as if their life de­pends upon it!

From look­ing at ex­am­ples of your work (par­tic­u­larly your ceram­ics), it’s ob­vi­ous that your chick­ens pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion – what is it about them that does so? My chick­ens are ideal subjects for my ceram­ics; they are quirky, beau­ti­ful in colour and form and their im­ages can of­ten be in­cor­po­rated into de­signs that re­flect my other great loves, namely flow­ers and my gar­den. These im­ages on my vases, teapots, jugs and bowls con­tinue to be a best-seller and I have met so many cus­tomers that are equally crazy about their chick­ens.

Who in­spired you to be­come an artist? I stud­ied art at college and univer­sity and have an art-re­lated de­gree… but… as a child I used to paint with my granny ev­ery weekend. She was re­ally tal­ented and took me to all sorts of coun­try and coastal re­treats with a flask of tea and Mar­mite sand­wiches.

It’s well known that writ­ers suf­fer from ‘writer’s block’ – is the same true of artists… and if so, do your chick­ens help un­block the block? I don’t gen­er­ally suf­fer from artists’ block but, if I do, then I paint a chicken or, if I just need a break, then sit­ting in the gar­den with a glass of wine and watch­ing the chick­ens usu­ally re­freshes me. I of­ten stare at them for ages when I should be work­ing!

How do you fit your daily chicken rou­tine in with your work and, bear­ing in mind re­cent scares with re­gard to bird flu, have you had to al­ter your rou­tine/hous­ing in any way? Hap­pily, my hus­band is the main chicken carer and he has just built a new large chicken house and en­clo­sure, whereas pre­vi­ously their ‘free range’ was lim­it­less. (They weren’t too happy about the changes, I must ad­mit!)

Fi­nally, what single piece of ad­vice would you give any­one con­sid­er­ing start­ing with chick­ens? Try to get your chick­ens to lay their eggs where you want them to. It might seem to be a bit of mar­ket­ing but, if you see ‘dummy’ eggs for sale at your lo­cal agricultural shop, take heed and buy some – placed in the nest box, they will def­i­nitely help young pul­lets un­der­stand ex­actly where they are sup­posed to lay. With­out such sup­port in the past we’ve found eggs in­side the car’s spare wheel, on top of the com­post heap and in more other places than you can imag­ine! Fi­nally, it may sound ob­vi­ous, but lots of cock­erels may re­sult in lots of chicks and most of them will be cock­erels too. Talk­ing of which, can you please give ‘Ger­ald’, the cock bird in the photo a men­tion… I know he’ll ap­pre­ci­ate it! Find out more about Kather­ine’s work at her web­site: www.kather­inebar­ne­yartist. co.uk www.yourchick­ens.co.uk

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.