I Heard A Bird Sing

For Solstice 23 Artists compilation

I Heard a Bird Sing

a sound-piece


in gratitude for the good dark of winter
in joy of the light returning
in appreciating for transitions and transformations
in memory of Yinka Selley, and Mamie
and for the(ir) love of song

created for


Solstice. Sunrise. Midday. Sunset. Encounters.

| A collective project | 

a film of collected artworks
inspired by and initiated on the Winter Solstice
curated by Kel Portman
Solstice 2023

View the whole compilation here:

Listen to / watch ‘I heard a bird sing’ at 8:00 minutes



‘I heard a bird sing’ dawn winter solstice 22nd December 2023

for Solstice. Sunrise. Midday. Sunset. Encounters. | A collective project | curated by Kel Portman


I sang ‘I heard a bird sing’ from my rooftop scaffolding, calling to East at dawn, the Ash treetops of a walled garden from which the Song Thrush has been serenading us since November.

Feeling the transition from the darkness of a long winter inside out – my body enlivening with resonance of song, of connectedness in chorus, frequencies that I share with loved ones alive and now with the birds.

Tara Downs

Churchend, Eastington, Gloucestershire UK.



 Extra information and thanks:

‘I heard a bird sing’ lyrics are a poem by Oliver Herford and the tune is by Dave Camlin;

I learnt it with and thanks to Melanie Golding and Sing Your Heart Out Stroud choir.

The sound piece of my Earthling and the Song Thrush singing is played through the bird app Merlin which produces the spectrogram.

In memory of Yinka, and my mamie, her captivating mechanical bird, and all their joy of song.



I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December

A magical thing*

And sweet to remember

We are nearer to spring

Than we were in September

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December…


*  “magical” in the poem sung as “wondrous”


Background about the callout

Aside from his own art practice Kel Portman is a fantastic facilitator and curator of artists and a catalyst for creative collaborations.

This is part of an long running series in response to significant transitions of the year in which he produces videos of artist work he has curated from invited artist.

His call out for this piece was –

“The year’s shortest day and shortest night in the Northern
Hemisphere and the sun at it’s lowest point.
Since the earliest cultures, the winter solstice has been seen as
the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun.
It’s still a significant time of year marked as a time of reflection, by festivals and rituals
Sunrise, Midday, Sunset. Encounters. A collective project

You are invited to participate in making a collective piece of work
on the Solstice.

This year it falls on Friday 22nd December

Sunrise, midday and sunset are wonderful time markers and especially
poignant at the time of the Winter Solstice.
The invitation is to stop whatever you’re doing and make a piece
of work at either or all these times – exactly at sunrise, midday
and sunset – whatever the weather and wherever in the world you
happen to be.”