Molly Wallis is a painter and printmaker living in Suffolk with a First Class BA Hons degree in Painting. She has always been absorbed by nature, landscape and memories, whether it be from growing up in rural Norfolk, to living in Australia and on the edge of the Peak District or exploring her late father’s home in the vast landscapes of Montana. These themes continue to permeate throughout her work, whether on large scale metal paintings or minutely crafted mezzotints documenting the decline in UK birds.
During lockdown Molly began to make work using mezzotint because it was something she could lose herself in without taking up lots of space or having lots to clear up around her children.
“I soon became absorbed in the labour of love in the act of revealing the landscape or bird from the copper plate. It is a completely different way of working and I feel that I have maintained some of the spontaneity of my mark making albeit on a smaller, more controlled scale.”
So began her long-term project to document every single bird from the UK red list of conservation concern in mezzotint. Each species is created to scale and their own particular traits and challenges explored. Working in a range of dark tones, the true colour of the bird is absent, archived as if from an old book, before lithography transformed colour prints for widespread publication, perhaps from a time when the population of these particular birds was of no concern.
Witnessing the wonder of her children as they encounter beetles, butterflies and (above all) worms reinforces Molly’s concern about what may be missing from our landscapes and natural world in their future.
“Birds are a symbol of freedom, if we lose them we will come crashing back down to earth, with a bump. The delicate connections and interrelations between us, our landscape, flora and fauna dictates the wider climate emergency. Through archiving these 70 red list birds I hope to raise awareness of their individuality, unique characteristics and their personal histories, in the hope that they will not become merely another memory.”
Molly has completed 17 birds out of 70 so far.