Inspiration from a Nightingale – Kate Lycett

Listening for bird song high up on the hill

Last Tuesday I was woken up by a Nightingale! I’ve never heard one before, but I knew what it was because they’d played the archive recording of the Nightingale and the Cello the evening before on Radio 4. I recorded it (the nightingale), just to be sure, and I’ve heard him twice since, at around 5am, before it was light and before most of the other birds were awake. This last time I woke my daughter up to listen too.

We're going for a walk to look for the Nightingale

As this drama loomed, I decided that I would try to make this time lovely with my family. The beautiful weather has helped, and I know we are incredibly fortunate that we live in a beautiful place. My twins are 9; they have each other to be daft with. My eldest is 13 and could be very frightened if we let her be. We’ve got into a good routine with school lessons. My husband does some days, and I do others. Every day, like most people, we’re going for a walk. Sometimes we take a flask of tea and some tin cups.

Robin the daredevil

The children are learning to recognise the birds by their songs, and we know that if we sit quiet then we’ll see and hear things that we wouldn’t have done before. The air is cleaner and there are more wild spring flowers than I’ve ever seen round here. I think that the birds are singing louder every day.

In the studio inspired by the Nightingale

The day of the nightingale, I had a beautiful idea in the studio. It took hold, and before I knew it I had painted myself into a corner with big sheets of inky paper drying on the heated floor. Earlier this year someone made reference to a painting of mine called ‘Hebden Bridge – Tree of Life’.

Hebden Bridge Tree of Life

She was a Yorkshire lass now living in Iran, and she said that it drew together her roots in The Calder Valley with Persian bird miniatures. It got me thinking and searching and  I’ve been looking at Tree of Life motifs woven into textiles and carpets.

The start of a new project inspired by the Nightingale

My world has got suddenly very small, but I am learning to look and appreciate it in fine detail. Every day on my walks with the children, I am collecting trees; just a quick drawing or a photo on my phone.

New project inspired by the NightingaleAnd these trees I am going to turn into a whole wall full of paintings. I’m focusing on light and colour, and the birds and animals that the children and I see. Yesterday we saw a huge owl flying low I the fields towards Stoodley Pike.

Kate Lycett


This guest post was written for us by Kate and is the start of a little series of posts some of our artists/designers and makers are writing for us to let you know what they are doing with their time during these challenging times for us all. We are also sharing the love over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if you could like and follow us over on our social media feeds, many thanks. Just leaving this image here from Totally Locally, please feel free to share thank you and follow these generous folk too x

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