by Simon Mustoe

Gorillaz to Ghosts of Gone Birds

We caught up with documentary-maker, die-hard Chelsea Football fanatic and recent birding convert, Ceri Levy at his home in the heart of West London. Ceri explained to us why, after spending six years on the road filming 'Bananaz' with the global music phenomenon Gorillaz, he has now turned his attention to birds...his new film The Bird Effect and the exhibition Ghosts of Gone birds.

Ceri used to go to the Scilly Isles every year as a child but only encountered birdwatchers in 2008 when he returned with his wife that October. Interested in the potential for a documentary, he returned the following year, then had a revelation - as he puts it "there came a moment when I wanted to put my camera down and look at what they were looking at ... there is something quite beautiful about what's going on .. something I had forgotten about, the beauty that surrounds us every day".

The concept of The Bird Effect was born with the realisation that birds affect us in so many ways, whether we know it or not. Birds are a conspicuous and immutable part of our culture and art, from the first cave paintings to modern-day musicians like the band Doves. Working with musicians like Jimi Goodwin from Doves, the folks atCaught by the River (Jeff Barrett who runs it is also the boss of Heavenly Records), artists like Bruce Pearson and Jim Lawrence from BirdLife International's Preventing Extinction program, Ceri has realised a new ambition ... to enrich people's appreciation of birds through a combination of art and conservation.

A friend Chris Aldhous, of creative agency Goodpilot, came up with the concept forGhosts of Gone Birds, a multimedia exhibition, featuring works by over 50 artists, plus musicians, writers and poets - as Ceri puts it, a "creative army for conservation". The aim is to raise money for BirdLife's Preventing Extinctions program whilst showing the world of birds and conservation to a new audience.

The exhibition premieres in May 2011 in Liverpool (UK) before touring the country and includes representations of various extinct and critically-endangered birds by some of the country's leading painters and sculptures, prompting people to imagine the value of the beauty that's been lost and how to prevent this for our future.

Birds are a conspicuous and immutable part of any person's lifetime. Who doesn't recall dreaming of flying as a child. Interest in birds is part of the human psyche, flight being the ultimate escapism.We are in a period of history where extinction rates are higher than ever before. We are lured into a virtual world of computers where the lines between work and pleasure become blurred and are beginning once more to look for ways to escape ... birds are firmly on the agenda as we try to rekindle our imagination in nature. Can we really afford to lose them?

Listen to the podcast of our Australian exclusive interview with Ceri

Stay up to date:

Ceri's Bird Effect Diaries can be read (along with loads of other great birding cultural material) on the rich tableau that is the Caught by The River blog (add it to your bookmarks now). FOLLOW 'GHOSTS' ON FACEBOOK.

Here are some of the other artists involved in the project: