Emerging artist Bevan Smith shines the spotlight on native bird conservation in Aotearoa

Black Robin
New Zealand Dotterel
Saving Our Species: New Zealand Birds is Bevan Smith’s singular effort to provide a visual education about a serious conservation issue, with his stunningly realistic graphite pencil drawings.


Saving Our Species: New Zealand Birds is Bevan Smith’s singular effort to provide a visual education about a serious conservation issue, with his stunningly realistic graphite pencil drawings.

After his sell-out debut show at Depot Artspace in 2016 with Animal Portraits, Smith has shifted his focus slightly to raise awareness of native birds in serious trouble.

He decided to concentrate on less iconic native birds facing the threat of extinction, birds that don’t have a high public profile or aren’t easily recognised by the general public.

“The exhibition was an idea I had after I'd drawn the first bird in the show; the fairy tern. I showed a few people and they liked the drawing but most didn't know what kind of bird it was. I found out through meeting keen bird photographers that there are so many endangered birds so poorly known by the public, they hardly get any protection at all,” says Smith.

New Zealand has 168 native bird species, 93 of which are endemic – this means they are found nowhere else in the world. The United Kingdom in comparison has one endemic bird species.  Currently, a third of all native birds are in serious trouble and nearly half face some trouble according to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment report, Taonga of an island nation: Saving New Zealand's birds released in May 2017.[1]

Smith’s timely exhibition addresses the desperate situation for New Zealand native birds, due to the introduction of pests. Saving Our Species will also include visual interpretations of extinct birds, inviting the audience to contemplate an Aotearoa bereft of native birds. 

As Smith explains, “Auckland is a city with the largest number of people in NZ but here we seem to know the least about our native birdlife. In the Hauraki Gulf alone there are countless islands that are home to an incredible variety of birds so few Aucklander’s know about. I hope through the medium of art I can educate the public that many of NZ's birds are not well-known and under serious threat of extinction.”

Saving Our Species will showcase the diversity of New Zealand native birds, accompanied by detailed descriptions of each species along with the threat to its habitat and/or existence. The exhibition is kindly supported by Forest and Bird North Shore Branch and their Kiwi Conservation Club. 

Saving our Species: New Zealand Birds will officially open on Saturday 2 December, 2pm-3:30pm at Depot Artspace, 28 Clarence St, Devonport. 

The exhibition runs from 2 December – 20 December 2017.


[1] http://www.pce.parliament.nz/our-work/news-insights/native-birds-in-desperate-situation-says-environment-commissioner

Further information: 

Special Event: Learn to Draw Birds with Bevan! - Sunday 10 December, 1pm-2pm, Main Gallery

Bevan will be providing an easy step by step tutorial on drawing birds by showcasing his amazing drawing skills! Bevan will discuss his drawings and provide facts about the endangered birds and their predators. This drawing workshop is kindly supported by Forest & Bird North Shore and their Kiwi Conservation Club.

More about Bevan Smith

“My love of animals and art dates back to my early childhood with frequent visits to the zoo where I would sketch a variety of zoo animals. This affection for both subjects has only strengthened through trips to South Africa and Borneo where I would continue to observe and capture animals on paper. I completed my degree in Applied Science: Animal Welfare and Management in 2016 and it sparked in me an interest in conservation. I specialise in graphite pencil drawings as I find it an effective medium for demonstrating great detail. Pencil is especially good for subject matter where there is little detail on the background and an obvious focus on the subject.” You can follow Bevan on Facebook or on Instagram via bevan_s.

Forest & Bird North Shore Branch

One of the largest branches (by members) in the country, North Shore branch covers roughly the area of the old North Shore City. Formed in 1923, Forest and Bird New Zealand was originally established to protect our native forests and birds, our role has been extended in recent years to include protection of all native species and wild places – on land and in our oceans, lakes and rivers.

Depot Artspace

Depot Artspace is an open and inclusive creative community in Devonport, Auckland that encourages engagement in all art forms. Depot Artspace offers a variety of facilities, services and events that support the creative community including galleries, a professional development programme, publications and a recording studio.

Contact details: 
Anusha Bhana, Media & Promotions Coordinator, (09) 9632331 or anusha.bhana@depotartspace.co.nz

Written by

Depot Artspace

28 Nov 2017