Flock of Words is part of the extensive Tern Project, a diverse collection of artwork with an avian theme, upon the promenade of Morecambe, which has tremendous views across Morecambe Bay. The bay is a bird habitat of international importance being 195 square miles in extent with 120 square miles of exposed sands at the lowest tide, making it the largest continuous intertidal area in Britain. Morecambe Bay is fed by five rivers: the Crake, the Keer, the Leven, the Lune and the Wyre and it is the third most important estuary in Europe in terms of supporting birdlife. It is the U.K.’s most important wintering site for dunlin, oyster catcher, curlew and turnstone and has a dependent population of more than 200,000 wildfowl and wading birds.
The project was conceived as a means of enhancing the promenade at a time when much restoration of the sea defences was being commissioned. It was hoped that the artwork, being ‘attractive, educational, durable and, above all, fun’ would transform the identity of the town. The project was launched in 1992.
The Tern Project was funded by Lancaster City Council; the Arts Council, England; Morrisons; the North West Arts Board and Lancashire County Council. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was a further partner in this project.
A Flock of Words is a typographic artwork, upon a narrow path, which wittily uses an avian metaphor as the title of an eclectic selection of text celebrating the diversity both of English speaking poets and of species of birds. It includes bird poems, traditional sayings, jokes and song lyrics ranging from the Book of Genesis to Spike Milligan. The idea originated with the artist Gordon Young and it has been described by Margaret Richardson of the magazine Font, as ‘a visual and verbal meditation’ upon the bay. As each complete section of text is orientated independently of its neighbours, different verses may be read when walking either up or down the path.
The hundreds of words include: ONE SWALLOW DOES NOT MAKE A SUMMER/ ARISTOTLE// ONE FOR SORROW/ ONE FOR JOY/ THREE FOR A GIRL/ FOUR FOR A BOY (The Magpie Rhyme)// WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN/ TRAD// TWO COCKS AND HEN FOUR LARKS AND A WREN/ HAVE ALL MADE THEIR NESTS IN MY BEARD/ LEAR// BALD AS A COOT// THE WAKER GOES THE CUKKOW EVER UNKYNDE/ CHAUCER// CAN A PARROT EAT A CARROT STANDING ON ITS HEAD ?/ MILLIGAN// BEWARE THE CANARY GONE HAIRY FED ON STEROIDS INSTEAD OF SEEDS/ MCGOUGH// WHAT A WONDERFUL BIRD IS THE PELICAN/ MERRITT// LIKE WATER OFF A DUCK’S BACK// THEN HE SENT FORTH A DOVE (Genesis 8.8)// ALONE AND WARMING HIS FIVE WITS/ A WHITE OWL IN THE BELFRY SITS/ TENNYSON// THREE LITTLE PUFFINS/ WERE PARTIAL TO MUFFINS/ FARJEON//
Related works : Other elements of The Tern Project; The Comedy Carpet, below Blackpool Tower by Russ Coleman.
PMSA recording information