This aquatint is from a set of nine prints published in 1994 by the Byam Shaw School of Art to raise funds for its student scholarship and bursary fund. The participants generously donated their work and the portfolio was printed in an edition of eighty. The artists were asked to contribute an image reflecting one of the birds of London. The purpose was not to produce an ornithological record but to provide a unifying theme through which the individual temperaments and styles of this group of distinguished artists could be expressed.
The portfolio was purchased for the University by the Friends of the Mead.
Maggi Hambling has developed a vigorous, expressionist style in her figure studies, landscapes and portraits. In Heron she typically offers an image in which the bird is used as a paraphrase for human emotion, perhaps disgruntlement, in this case. This image of a heron was used in her sculpture The Brixton Heron, a weathervane mounted on the roof of a public house in Brixton, London.