Accomplished artist and Wisbech resident, David Housden, has revealed a brand new painting inspired by his experience counting butterflies for Butterfly Conservation’s 2023 Big Butterfly Count.
The painting, which has received thousands of views on social media, shows David, 72, in his garden just outside of Wisbech counting butterflies for the wildlife charity’s annual butterfly survey, which took place in July and August 2023.
David, who is also a keen photographer, painted the piece in acrylics using photographs of each of the 20 species of butterfly and day-flying moths which participants are asked to record as part of the citizen science programme.
“It was a gloriously hot July day when I was taking part in the Big Butterfly Count and our Buddleias were inundated with Red Admirals and Peacocks. It was an incredible scene, and I was inspired to capture it in my art.”
Butterfly Conservation recorded a 338% increase in sightings of Red Admiral during the Big Butterfly Count in 2023, with supporters sharing their photos and videos of the butterfly appearing in large numbers in their gardens and local wild spaces.
Sharon Hearle, Conservation Manager for the East of England at Butterfly Conservation, said: “We saw over 95,000 people take part in this year’s Count and it was a fantastic year for butterfly and day-flying moth sightings with more than 1.5 million spotted in gardens and green spaces across the UK.
“We know that spending time in wild spaces is great for people’s mental health and David’s painting captures how special those moments of connecting with nature can be.”
David began painting in his early teens before becoming an art teacher. Since retiring from the Queen’s School in 2006, David has spent most of his time in his studio working on new art pieces. His work includes a 16ft painting of Wisbech before the 1978 floods which changed the face of the riverbank forever.
David, who is currently preparing for his first exhibition in 40 years at the National Trust’s Peckover House, which runs between March and November 2024, said: “I’ve always been interested in the environment, landscapes and wildlife, and these themes come up in a lot of my work.
“I wanted to share my latest piece to encourage others to take part in the Big Butterfly Count in 2024. It’s a lovely way to spend 15 minutes in nature, while supporting and celebrating the fantastic butterflies and moths we have here in the UK.”
Butterfly Conservation is calling on UK residents to create a Wild Space in their garden or outdoor area to help butterflies and moths to feed, breed and shelter, and to create wildlife corridors across the country.
Creating a Wild Space now will help encourage butterflies and moths ahead of this year’s Big Butterfly Count, which takes place from 14 July – 6 August.
Find out more about Wild Spaces here.