Isabella Niven, Most Days You Will See A Pigeon (2010)

The pigeon is an unlikely emblem of civic pride. They are not lions or liver birds. They confer no distinction. Even towns have them. Even some villages.

But Milton Keynes is no ordinary place. Unlike most of the UK it is built on a grid system and the boulevards have numbers which reach into the hundreds. The car is king. Public life takes place in malls.

So it comes as less of a surprise that a current art project in MK is using the humble pigeon to draw attention to the apparent normality of the oft derided new town.

Residents have been invited to perch ceramic pigeons in a meaningful place and take a photograph. Here is Elizabeth Sabey’s contribution. The bird is on the prow of a second hand canoe she patched up over several months, all the while getting her own life back on track.

It’s just an amateur photograph and short piece of text. By way of a plinth it had an exhibition stand in a shopping centre, and a more recently a corner in a one room gallery in Brighton. Grand, it ain’t.

Moving, however, it is. It is clear hopes and dreams can take wing in Milton Keynes just as well as any other urban centre. Brightonians would do well to visit, and think twice next time they clap eyes on a pigeon.

This project is a collaborative twinning of Milton Keynes and Brighton and can be seen at Two For The Show (Part I) at A&E Gallery, Brighton. See gallery website for opening times, and visit to view a few of the birds in situ.

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