A new mural from Louis Masai has appeared in Wimbledon. Called ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ it depicts a male and a female house sparrow. The title of the piece references the silence which would follow should the decline of the British bird population not go unaddressed. Sparrows in particular are known for their birdsong.
House Sparrows have been a part of our urban life for generations. For many years they have been the most common British bird. However, their numbers are declining. Contributing factors such as habitat loss and over development have not been helping. According to The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), there is a severe decline in the UK house sparrow population, recently estimated as dropping by 71 per cent.
Painting the Natural World
Masai is known for his depiction of the natural world. Indeed we’ve featured his work many times on this blog. Undoubtedly he is one of the most prominent environmental street artists of his generation. Known in recent years for his toy patchwork pieces, for the Wimbledon piece he’s reverted to an earlier style. According to Masai…
“House Sparrows are suffering from habitat loss due to overpopulating cities and a lack of food, e.g. pesticides and herbicides being used on the crops in the countryside which feeds an over-populated country. I would hate to see the fragile state of the environment’s biodiversity only being seen as important when the last bird is no longer around to be heard anymore.”
It’s Oh So Quiet
Based on the hit single ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ by Icelandic musician Björk, the art reflects how birdsong has reduced over time. Amongst humans, the natural sounds of birdsong have been linked to improved mental and emotional health. It’s been said that hearing birdsong allows us to connect with the natural world. Perhaps this is the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern life?
The ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ Sparrow mural by Louis Masai can be seen on Alwyne Road in Wimbledon Town Centre. The project has been supported by Love Wimbledon a not for profit organisation paid for by the businesses of Wimbledon. All photos are courtesy of ‘Love Wimbledon’