The Conference of the Birds: Curlew & Great Auk

Published 22/05/2023   |   Last Updated 03/11/2023   |   Reading Time minutes

Sean Harris

Sponsored by Llyr Gruffydd MS, Mark Isherwood MS and Carolyn Thomas MS

Dates: 19 September- 19 December 2023

Location: Senedd Oriel & Pierhead Futures Gallery


Artist and animator Sean Harris gives voice to two iconic birds: the Curlew – which may be gone from Wales in less than a decade – and the Great Auk – whose tragic demise, bookended by pioneering Welsh science, raises stark questions of our capacity to learn from past mistakes. Together they speak of the far-reaching consequences of our actions as consumers and an unsustainable relationship with the natural world.

For two decades Harris has used animation as a vehicle for exploring and expressing the diverse relationships between people and landscapes in Wales and beyond. Invariably adopting a resonant creature as guide, his inclusive way of working forges new connections and networks. The artworks that form the legacy of this creatively-fuelled bridge-building mechanism have advocated both for local communities on the national stage and for Wales internationally.

For millennia art and beast have combined to present a vital means to question, express our relationship with the land and ultimately to say ‘this is us and this is our place’. Embracing this ethos within an animated travelling menagerie, Harris brings the birds to life so as to hold up a mirror to society and thereby help shape a better future for generations to come.

Cymanfa’r Adar, devised by Sean Harris, is a partnership between the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Ruthin Craft Centre. It has been funded by the Arts Council of Wales and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s Sustainable Development Fund.

Museum loans facilitated by Senedd Cymru in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales.


Programme of projections:

At the centre of the Pierhead Futures Gallery is a large scale ‘lantern’ illuminated by a succession of projections. The films feature animated and landscape imagery along with specimens from scientific research and museum collections.

Each has been made in collaboration with a community assembled through a project focused on a specific location.


GylfinirClwydian Range and Dee Valley.

19 September - 19 December

Clymau S’yn Cynnal (The Ties That Bind)Radnorshire

19 September - 7 October 

Echo-MakerSomerset Levels.

9 October - 21 October

The Cave Hunters and the Truth Machine

23 October - 4 November

Lynx Cave Dreaming Clwydian Range and Dee Valley.

7 November  - 18 November

1844 Atlantic Ocean

21 November - 19 December



©Sean Harris ©Anna Arca