Rachel Magdeburg – Members Residency

The membership residency scheme was started in 2014 as an opportunity to offer members a focused period of time that can be dedicated to research, experimentation, and the development of new work, supported by the staff, in the Project Space at Patrick Studios, Leeds. Aware of the growth of the organisation and the subsequent geographic spread of our members we wanted to implement a project where members from across the country could meet and have access to the staff team and vice-verser.

Throughout May 2014, East Street Arts has hosted artist and writer Rachel Magdeburg from Gateshead as she looks into the reintroduction of the Red Kite. We caught up with Rachel Magdeburg and here’s what she had to say about her project ‘Milvus milvus’.

“For the past four years I have been fascinated by the resurgence of the Red Kite (Milvus milvus) bird in the UK, and its resulting use as a brand name and logo for local businesses and focus for regional tourism.

The Red Kite was deliberately re-introduced from Spain to my hometown High Wycombe (the Chilterns) from 1989 onwards. Young birds from this population that became established were transported to Harewood House, West Yorkshire in 1999 and the Derwent Valley, Gateshead in 2004, where I coincidentally now live. The Red Kites have made a profound reinstatement in the skies, particularly in the Chilterns where they are seen in mass abundance. The ‘success’ of this Conservation project has also led to the use of the ‘Red Kite’ as an idea of place, mascot and commercial emblem, witnessed in the growth of enterprises such as Red Kite buses, ales, driving schools and housing associations.

For the Member’s Residency at East Street Arts I have been researching the history and purpose of this assisted translocation, the implications for ecology, biodiversity, ethics, local economies and the interaction and relationship between Red Kites and Humans. I have been photographing artifacts and locations, meeting people directly involved with the re-introduction, talking to experts within the Biological Sciences and observing Red Kites, both dead and alive.

This collation of research is the foundation for a creative fictional image/text narrative, tracing the Red Kites near annihilation during the 19th century by Humans and resulting extinction in England and Scotland, and the subsequent ‘moral’ restoration. I am inventing characters and will personify the birds to seek revenge for their earlier destruction and retaliation by taking over the UK through brand domination and monopolizing Business, Leisure, Technology and Enviro-Tourism sectors. I am creating a lyrical story with a series of sketches to culminate eventually in a final production.” Rachel Magdeburg

There will be two events happening on Saturday 31st May 2014 as part of Rachel’s research:
Trip to Harewood House
Open Event at Patrick Studios