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Public artwork commissioned by University College Cork and Aberystwth University Wales

The Urban Gull Uprising is a slightly off-beat look at biodiversity loss and centres around the fictional uprising of urban Herring Gulls. It is a multi-layered project encompassing a variety of mediums including photography, sound, installation and a publication as well as educational elements.

Herring Gulls get a lot of bad press. Rarely are they seen as an important part of biodiversity in Ireland. Little is heard of how their homes and food sources have been depleted or of their adaptability or cleverness to survive in the face of such adversity. More often than not people prefer to point the finger and complain about the inconvenience of these birds to their life in urban settings. Over the last few years there have been regular calls for the birds to be culled from members of the public, public representatives and the press. The birds are nearly always spoken about in derogatory manner and language. Unfortunately, the gulls never get to chance to defend themselves, or to challenge how our behavior as humans is destroying their way of life. Nor do they get an opportunity to make people aware of the important positive contribution they make to biodiversity.

My work was interested in what might happen if this was to change. What if the gulls got sick of the negative reaction by humans the very people who have taken their habitats and food? What if they decided to organize, rise up, and speak out to demand change? The work includes a sound piece based on the points of views of a group of Irish Herring Gull birds who decide to rise up and challenge their own position, to create common cause with animal, birds and humans across the world in a struggle to create a different kind of world.

The sound piece was informed by research, engagement and contributions from experts in the field. The sound piece uses scientific information, stories and antidotes to create the artwork.

To complement the sound piece, a tabloid style newspaper The Left-Wing Journal was created. The Left-Wing Journal is an agit-prop newspaper created by the gulls as part of their campaign to educate and challenge the negative views many humans have of gulls. The gulls seek to share alternative views to the mainstream human media, one that creates common cause with humans in a struggle against capitalism to save the planet for both humans and animals alike. The paper also carried articles from their fellow human allies including BirwdWatch Ireland and Jess Spears paleoceanographer among others.

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