‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ is new wall art installation in Wimbledon Town Centre, created by Love Wimbledon, in collaboration with artist Louis Masai and local photographer and culture campaigner Cindy Sasha. This piece aims to raise awareness of the decline of British birds in London, particularly the House Sparrow, renowned for its birdsong and seen as a vital part of urban life.
Brought to life by environmental artist, often best known for his dynamic and inspiring wall murals of endangered animals, ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ features a male house sparrow and female house sparrow inferring the question of ‘where has the sparrow song gone’. The decline in the existing number of this species has caused the house sparrow to be red-listed as a species of high conservation concern by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), highlighting the critical situation facing British birdlife.
The Passer domesticus, the scientific name for the House Sparrow, can be found both in the centre of cities and the farmland of the countryside. According to RSPB, there is a severe decline in the UK house sparrow population, recently estimated as dropping by 71 per cent between 1977 and 2008, with substantial declines in both rural and urban populations.
UK house sparrow populations have fluctuated greatly over the centuries, with a gradual decline during the last 100 years. House sparrow numbers were not monitored adequately before the mid-1970s. Since then, numbers in rural England have nearly halved while numbers in towns and cities have declined by 60 per cent. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) sites possible reasons for the House Sparrow decline within urbanized landscapes as including increased levels of pollution and loss of suitable nesting sites.
Based on the hit single ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ by Icelandic musician Björk, this art reflects how birdsong has reduced over time due to this population decline. The natural sounds of birdsong have been linked to improved mental and emotional health amongst humans. Hearing birdsong allows us to connect with the natural world and can be the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern life.
This new street art piece can be found on Alwyne Road, off Wimbledon Hill Road, in Wimbledon Town Centre.
“This collaboration has brought an important message to Wimbledon, whilst also developing a stronger and more vivid cultural strategy for visitors to experience the town centre. The art is impactful, meaningful and has had a positive response from business, visitors and local residents. We were pleased to hear we have a crew of House Sparrows in Wimbledon Town Centre - something to be truly celebrated.”
Sally Warren, Love Wimbledon
“House Sparrows are suffering from habitat loss due to overpopulating cities and a lack of food, e.g. pesticides and herbicides being used on the crops in the countryside which feeds an over-populated country. I would hate to see the fragile state of the environment’s biodiversity only being seen as important when the last bird is no longer around to be heard anymore.”
“Street art can change a landscape of a town centre and send different messages, great to see this in my old home territory. I love it when the love spreads through art and sends such a positive message - we need more of it!”.