Moths: Intricacies of UK’s under-threat bugs

Moths: Intricacies of UK's under-threat insects

image copyrightSarah Gillespie
picture captionErmine moths

Artist Sarah Gillespie has created an intricate sequence of mezzotints to focus on the plight of moths, whose numbers are declining within the UK.

Created over a interval of 18 months, the pictures had been produced utilizing an archaic printmaking approach by which steel plates are meticulously scratched and polished.

image copyrightSarah Gillespie
picture captionCommon quaker

“The mezzotints are entirely handmade and hand-printed,” explains the artist, who relies in Devon.

“I use a mixture of photographic and drawn references taken both from my own moth trapping and the museum collection in Exeter.”

image copyrightSarah Gillespie
picture captionLight emerald

While the prints are near-photographic intimately, Gillespie discovered movie to be extra influential on her inventive course of.

“I’ve always been inspired by film more than photography,” she says.

“The difficulty of the method gives something to push against, to test oneself against.

“Photographs are a really helpful reference instrument, however what’s extra attention-grabbing to me is the essential position of sunshine in each movie pictures and the lives of moths.”

image copyrightSarah Gillespie
image captionCampion

Moths play a vital role in the ecosystem, providing food for a variety of wildlife.

Research suggests that they also pollinate a wide range of plants and flowers overnight.

image copyrightSarah Gillespie
image captionFour-spotted footman

While sometimes overshadowed by their colourful butterfly cousins, moths are considerably more diverse, with about 2,500 species in the UK.

image copyrightSarah Gillespie
image captionSmall phoenix

However, studies have found that the overall number of moths in the country has decreased by 28% since 1968.

image copyrightSarah Gillespie
image captionYellowtail

It is thought that loss of habitats, pesticides and light pollution are some of the reasons behind the decline in numbers.

image copyrightSarah Gillespie
image captionSwallow tail

Gillespie aims to draw attention to the shrinking moth population, while celebrating the diversity of the insects through her intricate artistic process.

“If what I’ve been given is the power to focus, to concentrate, and if there’s even the remotest likelihood that in attending lies an antidote to our careless destruction, then that is what I’ve to do: to focus,” she says.

“It’s not sufficient however it’s mandatory.”

Sarah Gillespie’s mezzotints and silverpoint drawings are on show at Kestle Barton in Cornwall till 31 October.

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