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The London-based painter Humphrey Ocean (born 1951) has painted portraits of Paul McCartney and Philip Larkin, among many others. But alongside these prestigious commissions, he has always returned to drawing the simpler things in life: our “alluringly unnatural world,” as he puts it. The result is this idiosyncratic and charming collection of birds, all rendered in Ocean’s unique style.
As well as birdwatching around his home and studio in South London, Ocean regularly visits his sister, who is a nun in Nairobi and has loved birds all her life. There, he paints Kenyan birds such as the Eurasian bee-eater, the Bulbul and the Flycatcher that are “local, a bit like our garden birds so nothing overly exotic, but of course to me they are.” They join the familiar gulls, thrushes and tits of the gardens, parks and hedgerows of the UK in this beautifully produced collection.