The raven has held a place in my heart ever since I had the privilege of rewilding two of these majestic birds on my land in Sussex. First, Cronk took up residence and then Craw, both of whom I cared for until they were strong enough to re-join their kind. This experience instilled a sense of wonder in me and a deep respect for their grace, wisdom and beauty.

Ornithologists consider ravens the most intelligent of all birds. I experienced their tenacious problem-solving, as well as their long memories; the adage that ‘ravens never forget’ rings true. They are also vocal learning birds. When Craw roosted outside my window, I heard her complex array of vocalisations, as well as observing her sophisticated, non-verbal communication and her ability to mimic other birds and animals.

The raven has an ability to share a wide range of emotions. During their time with me I witnessed their capacity for tenderness, happiness, anger and surprise. I fell for their sense of humour as they played mischievous tricks on me such as hiding food, playing dead and pinching anything left unguarded. They can also decide to hold grudges or act shy.

Consummate acrobats, Cronk and Craw would dart over the fields, soaring on updrafts, somersaulting and spiralling as their jet feathers changed from purple to green in the wavelengths of light, rhythmically flapping their wings and then gliding towards me, their powerful 4-feet wingspan creating a sound that governed the silence.

The precious moments I spent with these masterful birds had a profound influence on me. Now they form the central expression of my debut collection. Their wildness finding its way into each finely crafted art piece.

Notes and Mythology


The raven is a protected bird found in the UK’s highlands, forests and wetlands. They are the largest Corviae, with a wingspan of almost four feet. Corvids have the largest brains, in relation to their body size, of any bird and they are tightly packed with neurons. By four months old, studies have shown that ravens have full blown cognitive skills. Before reaching full maturity, they can rival great apes and problem solve at a similar level to children under seven years of age. Tellingly, ravens have several collective nouns: a bazaar, an unkind, a constable and a rant; reflecting their complex personalities. When ravens find their love match, they mate for life – a sign of their deep-seated loyalty to those who have earned it.

While often perceived as a foreboding creature, in many cultures the raven symbolises honesty, divination and hope. There is enchantment in the raven’s iridescent plumage, as it takes flight, that has elicited primal awe for millennia. The raven performs the role of mediator and protector, representing new beginnings and connecting humans to other realms.

The Celtic god Bran the Blessed believed ravens were his totem and the goddess Morrighan chose the form of the raven when going into battle. In ancient Japan, the three-legged raven, Yatagarasu was sent from the heavens to lead Emperor Jimmu through the mountains to establish his nation. In Egypt, corvids represent faithful love, for as the people of the ancient world correctly observed, they are monogamous. And for the Greeks and Romans, the Corvidae symbolised long life and was second only to eagles in importance.

Native Americans paint ravens as creators and shapeshifters. In Haida myth, the Grey eagle was the guardian of the sun, moon, stars, fresh water and fire. He resented people so much that he kept these things hidden, until a raven stole them and brought them into the world, but as he delivered the fire, it turned his feathers from pure white to jet black.  

In Cornish folklore, King Arthur is said to have entered eternity as a guardian raven. Thereafter, the people were so afraid to kill a raven in case it was the king. King Charles II insisted that the six resident ravens of the Tower of London were protected, warning that the crown and the kingdom would fall if they ever left the Tower. They remain protected to this day.

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