Friends of a (Non) Feather: Rita Grebe (Great Crested)

Meet new birdie character, Rita Grebe who emerged preening from The Locating Your Inner Bird workshops on Wallasea Island. LYIB took place as part of the RSPB’s Wild Coast Weekend on their reserve in Essex. Over 80 contributors located their inner bird through discussion, guidance by RSPB member and expert birdwatcher Gwyn Delve and through my use of  shamanic and creative exercises.  Rita is a Great Crested Grebe and can be found on Wallasea Island. She’s one of the handful of birds RSPB founder Emily Williamson wanted to conserve as they faced extinction in the late 1800s from the fashion trade. The down of Great Crested Grebes was highly sought after as ‘fur’ for garments, while their feathers perched on women’s hats. Williamson founded The Plumage League (the forerunner to the RSPB), which was a protest action group, resulting in the Grebe’s survival and the formation of the modern RSPB.

Rita was devised with this in mind: I wanted to avoid feathers. Co-conspirator David Curtis-Ring, who brilliantly designed the head dress, used a mixture of synthetic hair and fake fur. Rita is born! We’re constructing  the dress in time for the pilot performance on the 18th April at Metal. 8pm will see the unveiling of Rita Grebe and her idiosyncratic guide to Essex birds.

Book your tickets here:

I’m Artist in Residence at Metal Culture, along of course with Rita and The Lost Grouse:

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England and Metal.

Photo: Christa Holka