The tansy beetle is a creepy-crawlie jewel in the city of York’s crown. Until recently, this startlingly beautiful insect faced extinction in the UK and the flood-prone banks of the River Ouse either side of the city were the only place in the country that the species was known to survive. Environmental charity New Networks for Nature wishes to commission a new permanent public artwork celebrating the beetle at a prominent location close to York's railway station and the historic city walls. The mural will raise awareness of this unique and precious piece of the city's natural heritage. Any surplus funds will be directed to the production of interpretation and education material and to local groups acting to conserve the beetle and it's riverside habitat.
- Examples of previous work by ATM Street Art, and the location for the new beetle mural in York
- The artists impression of the final work in situ
The mural will be created on Queen Street, close to the railway station, by celebrated street artist ATM, who specialises in huge paintings of endangered species and his spectacular work adorns cities and nature reserves around the country. He's excited as the prospect of working in York, and with painting such a spectacular insect.“Beetles are so often overlooked because they are small. But they are of vital importance for healthy ecosystems everywhere, and their sudden and serious decline throughout Europe is major cause for concern,” he says.
“The Tansy Beetle is such a rare creature, and as one of its only strongholds in Britain is the York area, it would make a perfect subject for a striking and vibrant piece of public art.”
Homeowner Daisy Harris, who offered her wall as a home for the work says "When we brought the house on Queen street I always thought it would be perfect opportunity for something on the side but I never thought we would be lucky enough to have such an amazing piece of art and for such a good cause as raising awareness for the Tansy Beetle. We are beyond excited!"
- preliminary sketches for the beetle artwork.
New Networks for Nature have commissioned the work as a lasting legacy of Time for Nature, a major nature conference to be held at St Peter's School in York later this year. The conference will feature leading artists including ATM and Robert Fuller, nature-inspired musicians Sam Lee and Kitty Macfarlaneand, leading nature writers authors Kate Bradbury, Katharine Norbury and Sir John Lister Kaye and many more - poets, scientists, filmmakers and advocates for wildlife including Chris Packham, the presenter of BBC Springwatch. Full programme information and tickets for the event are available here.
Local nature writer and Time for Nature organiser, Dr Amy-Jane Beer is especially thrilled with this element of the project. “The tansy beetle is a species of which York can be rightly proud,” she says, “We want the mural to be a new landmark for York in more ways than one – a celebration of the amazing success of local conservation, and a timely reminder that nature has a rightful place in our city."
The recovery of the tansy beetle is thanks to efforts of the Tansy Beetle Action Group, spearheaded by local conservationists Geoff and Roma Oxford, in collaboration with Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust. Following habitat improvements, including the planning of lots of golden-flowered, aromatic tansy, the beetles began to thrive alongside River Ouse in such numbers that some could be spared to supply a reintroduction effort in the Cambridgeshire fens.