The Story behind Agent Starling’s European Howl Cover Art

We have had lots of lovely comments about our spectacular European Howl starling and hurdy-gurdy art work. The cover was created by fine artist Anna Kirk-Smith. Anna, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, and a previous Head of BA(Hons) Fine Art at Hull School of Art & Design told us about how she developed the idea for the cover.

“Whilst standing at my studio window watching the shrieking pitch battle of starlings tussling for a beakful of mealwormed suet, the thought came to me that what this species and hurdy-gurdys have in common is that once they get going, they are both impossible to ignore. They audibly and visually own the space they inhabit. It was at this point I decided that the album cover I had been asked to design was going to be a simple face-off between the two personalities.

Both have a sense of understated exoticism about them in form and decoration through the rich, sinuous marqueteries of the gurdy and the white-peppered iridescences of the bird. Both also behaviourally tend to flock in great numbers: starlings in autumnal, inexpressibly beautiful murmurations, and gurdy players in summery drone festivals like Le Son Continu, where I noticed they tend to adopt polite, concentric, circle-formations before the wheeling fortissimo begins.

As for the last aspect of the cover design, I have reliably been informed who, or what, Agent Starling is, and thought the mask was required so they could continue hiding in plain sight.”

Agent Starling European Howl

Visit Anna Kirk-Smith’s webite here

Get European Howl:


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