The natural world comes alive as Marcus Coates reinterprets the works of eighteenth-century naturalist and artist Thomas Bewick.

Previously, Marcus responded to Thomas' Northumbrian birthplace, Cherryburn, by installing several papier-mâché bird heads in the print style of Thomas in a project titled 'Conference for the Birds'.

The installation, in Cherryburn's domestic room, allowed visitors to sit under the heads and listen as the birds discussed their life, their habitats, and their concerns for the future.

This new creation is hosted on an online platform set up as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project On-Site/Off-Site, which is led by Newcastle University in partnership with the Bewick Society, National Trust and Arts&Heritage.

'Video Conference for the Birds' sees Coates gather his avian creations for a video conference, once again fostering a conversation about their lives, habitats and concerns.

Marcus said: “Thomas Bewick used wood engraving because the medium suited his extraordinary drawing skills.

"But, importantly, it also enabled printing costs to be lower than more modern techniques, meaning his books were affordable to more of the population and therefore knowledge of the natural world was able to become more widely known for the first time.

“This desire to bring the natural world to a wider audience resonates with me, this is part of the motivation for re-presenting this work in a digital form."

The project leader, Professor Vee Pollock, Dean of Culture and Creative Arts at Newcastle University, anticipates audience responses to the fresh take on Bewick's legacy.

She said: "It has been really interesting to see how Marcus has brought his imagination, thoughtfulness and skill to the challenge of revisiting Conference for the Birds to create a new piece of work for the digital realm, and I'm sure audiences will be equally intrigued."

Cherryburn’s visitor operations and experience manager, Kay Owen, said: "Marcus has commemorated Bewick’s contribution to art and natural history by turning his engravings into life-size sculptures. Video Conference for the Birds is a celebration of Thomas Bewick’s work that is still very much relevant today.”

'Video Conference for the Birds’ can be viewed on the On-Site/Off-Site project website.