'I got bored of drawing people' - Ipswich artist's new exhibition takes flight

Mandy's budgie, Roscoe, is a great source of inspiration.

Mandy's budgie, Roscoe, is a great source of inspiration. - Credit: Alison Adcock

An Ipswich woman is looking forward to her first solo exhibition this week which focuses on her favourite subject – pet birds. 

Mandy Renton, 55, rediscovered a love of painting 15 years ago. 

“At first, I did the usual life drawing, but I got bored of people – they just weren’t colourful enough!” she explained. 

Mandy Renton is looking forward to 'Chatter and Pandemonium,' her first solo exhibition, in Felixstowe.

Mandy Renton is looking forward to 'Chatter and Pandemonium,' her first solo exhibition, in Felixstowe. - Credit: Mandy Renton

Mandy now focuses her art on birds that are often kept as pets - such as parrots, cockatoos and particularly budgies, which she has loved since childhood. 

She now creates artwork that she hopes will appeal to fellow bird-lovers. She also sells her own range of bird-themed greetings cards

“You often get a lot of cartoony art – if you look at a T-shirt with budgie, for example, it will be a cute little cartoon, not a beautiful, realistic bird. I am interested in the way birds are portrayed in popular culture,” she said. 

“I like to focus on their character, not only their beauty.” 

Mandy is concerned at the way pet birds are often perceived as being simply decorative, and will be sharing information at her exhibition about their welfare and conservation. 

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“There can be misconceptions arising from social media,” Mandy explained.  

“While it can be very useful for finding out facts, like how to care for your birds and promoting their wellbeing, it can also glamorise them. 

“People think, ‘I want one of those cockatoos, or one of those macaws,’ but they don’t actually know how to care for them.

“The birds then end up getting rescued or given away, or are sometimes sold again and again, and this creates all kinds of welfare issues. 

Mandy has loved birds since her childhood in Stowmarket, when her parents kept an aviary.

Mandy has loved birds since her childhood in Stowmarket, when her parents kept an aviary. - Credit: Mandy Renton

Mandy is drawn to the vibrant colours of budgies.

Mandy is drawn to the vibrant colours of budgies. - Credit: Mandy Renton

“I have recently done some promotional work for the Cockatoo Sanctuary near Stowmarket. 

“They don’t actually rehome, and the reason for that is that some of these birds have been passed from owner to owner, because people can’t cope with them.  

“Looking after them is like a full-time job. They may have the intelligence of maybe a four- or five-year-old – but they can live for 40 to 50 years.  

“The paintings will hopefully be a starting point for a conversation.” 

‘Chatter and Pandemonium’ will be running from Thursday, April 28 to Wednesday, May 4 at 142 Gallery in Felixstowe.