Museum at Home

24 May 2021

Flamingos at the Salt Lake

David Reid-Henry (1919-1977) ‘White-winged Black Tern, Flamingo, Great White Egret’, Watercolour, 1956, Collection of the Foundation of Costas and Rita Severis

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David Reid-Henry was a bird artist who was invited to Cyprus by David and Mary Bannerman, a couple of ornithologists, to illustrate their book ‘Birds of Cyprus’. In the book, there are 14 beautiful coloured plates by Reid-Henry depicting more than one bird species.

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Activity one: Me, the bird artist…

Did you know…

People started studying birds about the same time that they started travelling, exploring the world, and observing nature. Before photography, the only way to depict birds was with illustration and painting.

Look at the painting very carefully as if reading a book: Start from the top left, move your eyes slowly to the right and then lower, reading every imaginary line closely from left to right.

  • How many different species of birds can you spot in the painting?
  • How many flamingos can you count?
  • Look around the painting for small details: a big light blue pebble, a small rock, a white and pink feather, a lifted leg, a reflection in the water

Close your eyes and imagine that you are part of the painting, you are the artist:

  • What can you see around you?
  • What do you hear?
  • What can you smell?
  • Where do you step on?
  • What can you touch with your hands?
  • What do you hold?
  • How do you feel?

Let’s think now of the difficulties that the artist had to deal with in order to make this painting. To do this let’s make an experiment!

  • Go out to your balcony, your backyard or for a stroll in nature.
  • Look around for a bird.
  • Take a piece of paper and try to draw it.

More difficult than you thought, huh? Think of three difficulties the artist had to deal with.

Activity two: Travelling Flamingos

Did you know…

In Cyprus, there are hundreds of bird species. Some of them are indigenous, which means that we can see them only in Cyprus, but most of them are migratory, which means that they come to the island only for a few months every year. Flamingos are winter visitors to the island and we can see thousands of them at Akrotiri and Larnaca Salt Lakes between November and February when there is enough water.

Observe now the flamingos of the painting. Each of them holds a different body position. Can you copy them?

  • Bend over your body and head towards the lake. Can you see some food?
  • Stretch and lift one leg and try to bend lower.
  • Place down your leg and move your body towards the right.
  • Now get up!
  • Stretch your left leg on the ground and lift your right leg up.
  • Stretch your head on the front and open your wings. Move them up and down. Let’s fly!

Have a safe trip flamingos! See you soon!

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"Flamingos 2" by orientalizing is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You can learn more about flamingos and other birds in Cyprus HERE

Colour your flamingo HERE

Activity three: Painting the Salt Lake

Did you know…

Larnaka Salt Lake is a very important wetland and hosts not only flamingos but other species of birds as well, that find there a safe feeding place. The characteristic of this lake is the quantity of salt someone can find there. From Medieval times up to the 1980s, the salt was gathered and transferred with donkeys and mules to the city to be sold. According to the legend, the salty water is there because of Saint Lazaros. Saint Lazaros asked an old woman to give him food and something to drink but she refused, making an excuse that her vineyards were dried up. St Lazaros answered ‘may your vineyards be dry and become a salt lake forever’

The salt lake and the wetland inspired many artists. In the museum, you can find a whole set of plates and platters decorated with motives and figures from the salt lake.

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Why not decorate your own plate inspired by the salt lake?

  • Take a white mat paper plate
  • Take markers or watercolours
  • Observe the painting and the plates and even maybe some photos of the salt lake you can find on the internet and decorate your plate.

Activity four: Let's hear your story flamingo!

Listen HERE to Tony the flamingo introducing himself!

Challenge of the week

Our challenge for this week is to enjoy your time birdwatching! You can visit a park or a birdwatching station and observe those beautiful creatures that brighten up our lives! More information on how to start birdwatching you can find HERE

*Let's visit the museum*

We will be very happy to welcome you and your family to the museum! When you visit you can look around the paintings for birds and animals and take notes. Do you know all of them? Find as many as you can!

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