The Feeder Canal Sand Martin Colony, Tue Greenfort
Tue Greenfort’s The Feeder Canal Sand Martin Colony uses materials that draw attention to its immediate environment, turning a disused shipping container into a fully functioning sand martin roost for an overlooked area of Bristol’s urban landscape. In providing a habitat for this protected migratory bird species, Greenfort subtly questions contemporary society’s systems of regulation and consumption.
Greenfort worked with a specialist fabricator to construct the roost for a small colony of sand martins that are using certain areas along the city’s Feeder Canal to nest during their migratory journey. Originally making nests in sandy riverbanks the sand martin has adapted to roost in structures that are not part of its known habitat. Along the Feeder Canal sand martins have been observed using drilled boreholes under a bridge that abuts the waterway as readymade nests. Greenfort’s constructed roost presents an attempt to both increase the
current colony size and demonstrate the adaptive nature of the species.
Having used a recycled shipping container to form the primary form of the roost, The Feeder Canal Sand Martin Colony stands with a sculptural weight echoing both the history of Minimal sculpture and the industrial warehouses adjoining the site. Greenfort invites us to consider the birds nesting place within the larger context of its surroundings: the canal, the housing estate, the parkland and the industrial warehouses serving as a backdrop to the roost. As a functional structure that rests within the local landscape a number of questions arise as to how we view the work. Is it a sculpture? Is it an environmental building project? Is it a participatory artwork? Or does it rest within and between all of these categories, questioning each?
The Feeder Canal Sand Martin Colony was made possible through funding from Barratt Homes, through Bristol City Council’s Public Art Strategy, and from Visiting Arts.