urban swifts

urban swifts

Exhibition now ended

To celebrate the opening of Walthamstow Wetlands, residents of Waterside, six cottages built by the Water Board in 1960, set up the knitting project ‘Urban Swifts’ and invited textile artist Deirdre Nelson to join them to ‘lead the flock.’

Local knitters began by sampling and testing the pattern Deirdre had created and once the trial Swifts had passed inspection by local birder Lol Bodini, more knitters gathered to make the flock that you now see hanging here at the base of the iconic Swift Tower.

The natural wool has been sourced from small suppliers across the UK supporting local producers and introducing the knitters to new materials. Fifty knitters enthusiastically took on the challenge and as they worked together, increased their knowledge of the Swift and the Wetlands.

Swifts are iconic in Walthamstow and can be seen across the skies of Waltham Forest and particularly over the reservoirs where they feed from April to August before returning to Africa. They are medium-sized aerial birds, superb fliers that only rest on land when they nest. These special migrants are in decline because modern buildings and conversions are sealing up the eaves where they nest.  This new Swift Tower is a potent symbol of the motivation behind Walthamstow Wetlands.

After the exhibition, the knitted Swifts will retire to care homes in the borough where we hope they will bring joy while introducing the Wetlands to the elders in our community.