HOME – Near and Far

HOME (Near & Far)

In 2022, Patrick was approached by The Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast for a commission to study their colony of Swifts and produce a visual response.

During his subsequent visits to Belfast to see the Crescent Arts Centre and it’s colony of Swifts that nest there, he was struck by how both stories, histories, and experiences merge together. He was shown around the many busy studios and workshops, each being home to people, activities, performances, and business. It was a real community of supportive practices, and the centre was the home of the arts for many individuals across the city and wider community. The bricks and mortar protected people, providing them with a home to be able to create and observe amazing works within its fabric.

From Patrick’s perspective, he could see how the Swifts flew thousands of miles from Mozambique each year to make their home on the roof of The Crescent. They also felt safe within The Crescent and again were able to express themselves in intricate flight and screams of joy as they carved their way through the sky and around the local landscape. They would create a new generation of Swifts that would also return and begin the process all over again. This is special!

The Swifts are among the fastest of birds, and in a lifetime, they can cover up to 1.24 million miles; enough to fly to the Moon and back five times over. They don’t land that often and can spend up to 3 years in constant flight, feeding and sleeping on the wing. So the period when approximately 100 birds make their home for 100 days at The Crescent seems very poetic and something worth celebrating.

Initial sketches of birds

At the start of a project, Patrick wrote words that expressed what he was trying to create. The below verse was written to use within artworks.

Patrick Murphy

The Swifts are back;
Flashing past the window,
A thousand miles an hour.
Screeching, diving, rising
Into blue sky, carving crescents.
They scream for summer’s
Warm embrace to rest, restore.
They are home!
They are back!


To start to understand the form of the Swift, Patrick produced some working drawings showing the birds in flight. These were to understand how their wings and bodies connect and are used in flight. These are a starting point for exploring how the motif of the bird could be turned into a three-dimensional form or to produce a series of prints.

Developing a Swift sculpture

Using the initial drawings and studies to understand the form, Patrick was able to develop a three-dimensional bird. The examples below show the shape of the bird evolving. Materials including bronze and steel were explored alongside producing a number of brightly colored birds. 

The sculptural Swifts are being developed into a public art installation on the facade of the building.

Home Bird Print for Belfast Book Festival 

To align with the Book Festival, Patrick wanted to explore using words within the shape of the Swift. He wanted to use the word HOME and to experiment translating it in languages ranging from Mozambique (Casa) to Japanese and beyond. He wanted this to show how the Crescent is the ‘home’ to the many nationalities present in contemporary Belfast. 

Below are initial ideas featuring single-word HOME translations.

Further development saw the silhouette of the swift used to contain 17 translations of the word HOME. Each word helps contribute the make the body of the bird’s distinctive outline.


Commission: The Crescent Arts Centre
Place: Belfast
Year: 2022