Additional Information for RSPB Frampton Commissions (Public Art)

Some artists have asked specific questions at the Open Days that we feel would be of interest to artists that are thinking of applying, but might not be able to get to see Frampton themselves.  If you have any other questions, please contact me.  RSPB staff are also keen to stress they are willing to receive potential applicants any time and will do their best to answer any queries.

Are there any precautions you have to take while generating ideas about the commissions in terms of safety towards the wildlife?

Most commissions are likely to be harmless to wildlife, but as Frampton Marsh is a wetland site, all installations will have to consider the possibility that certain chemicals used in construction may be harmful to aquatic wildlife. It would also be wise to consider not having steep sided pits/depressions as part of any structure on the ground in case these trap small mammals. Finally it would be worth reviewing plans for any quickly rotating larger objects, as these could present a risk to birds in flight.

Is there any conflict on site between the birds and visitors?

Yes there can be. Certain species can be easily disturbed and are especially vulnerable during the nesting season. Quite a lot of thought has gone into the design of the site to minimise disturbance to birds while trying to ensure visitors get excellent views. This is achieved by provision of fencing, ditches, bird hides, natural screening etc. But the birds will also become more tolerant and habituated to humans over time and interestingly sometimes more visitors leads to less disturbance as birds get used to seeing people more regularly. We have noticed this affect at Frampton, but does take years. If your commission requires the public to get up to/on it then we’d have to ensure this can be done in a way that doesn’t affect birds. We are here to advise on what would be suitable.

How appropriate might my commission be for Frampton Marsh?

This is a tricky one! Of course every location presents a unique challenge and even within a place like Frampton Marsh, what might be considered appropriate for near the Visitor Centre may not be so appropriate for the wilder areas on the reserve. When considering appropriateness we need to consider our visitors. Our two key audiences are bird watchers and what we call ‘Active Nature Enthusiast’ families; these are families with a least one person (who has influenced the decision to visit) being interested to see/experience nature. Most bird watchers like to listen to birds as well as watch them. Noisy installations which may disturb birds anyway could detract from their experience (unless the sounds are deliberately intended to compliment those natural sounds present). Clearly the aesthetics are personal and subjective. Birds are not likely to be worried about this, but our human visitors will be. We’ll be looking for something that ‘feels’ right, but it’s hard to say more than that without becoming prescriptive which is what we’re trying to avoid.