Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth, and many of my artworks draw on this theme.

Souvenir of a Tiger

2000 Badges pinned to canvas (180 x 120 cm) 2005

This piece was made in response to a visit to London Zoo, for an exhibition entitled “Zoo-a-logical’ at Knapps Gallery, Regents park 2005. I decided to use the different colours of the tiger to represent the 4 breeds of tiger, not yet extinct, but the most endangered. Three of these are so rare they are on the critically endangered list – Siberian (or Amurian) with less than 400 (black badges), Sumatran with less than 500 (orange badges), and the South China Tiger with less than 30 (pink badges). The Indo – Chinese Tiger is on the endangered list, with over1000 left (white badges). (This information was taken in 2005 so may no longer be accurate).


One of the reasons for the tiger being threatened is because it is still hunted in the wild for sport, the fur trade and traditional medicine. Often souvenirs are collected from the tigers for the hunters, or to sell, such as teeth and claws. I thought it ironic that places like London Zoo sell souvenirs such as badges to help raise funds and awareness of such practices, while in their native countries they sell souvenirs of dead tigers that are contributing to their rapid decline.


Disrupters (Spotty zebra foal

Disrupters (Qinling panda)

Disrupters (Pseudo melanistic tiger)

Disrupters (King cheetah)

Disrupters

Disruptors is a series of 4 hand coloured screen prints depicting animals that have disrupted the normal genetic pattern, through genetic mutations, to end up with unusual markings. They are inspired by traditional natural history illustrations but portray ‘odd ones out’.

Most new mutations reduce the fitness of their carriers, that is, they are deleterious and will be selected against, so that the vast majority of them will eventually be removed from the population. In rare cases, the mutation is advantageous and is positively selected. Without mutation, which introduces new variation into the population, there can be no selection. I see these animals as pioneers, trying out something new to see if it will succeed. Everything is at stake, life or death. A new ‘look’ could save its species, or, more likely, end with it. 

 The zebra foal with spots instead of stripes stands out in the crowd, but it is oblivious to its unusual look. Sadly it is likely it will not live beyond its youth, the tried and tested stripy formula of its counterparts as yet creates the strongest herd. Pseudo melanistic tiger – Pseudo-melanism, or abundism, is a variant of pigmentation, characterised by enlarged stripes in the tiger, making it appear darker. The Quinling pandas are a subspecies of the Giant panda. They are found in the Quinling mountains and differ by its smaller skull, light and brown fur and eye spots being under the lower lid rather than around the eyes. The King Cheetah appears to be coming a more common sight (even having its own name to distinguish it from its more spotty usual relatives), a possible explanation being its unusual stripes help it hide better in darker areas. Most of these mutations are thought to be a result of inbreeding. 


As populations shrink, and the genetic pool with them, there are less and less opportunities to try out something new, and save themselves from disappearing forever. Hail these pioneers in their last chance saloon. 


The Night Watch

These are unique pieces use oil paint, mix media and taxidermy materials, particularly glass eyes, to create engaging and transfixing paintings of owls, capturing the enigmatic air of mystery which surrounds these nocturnal birds. Despite our assumptions of what owls look like, there is a huge variety among them. The owls above are Barred Eagle Owl, Eagle Owl, Buffy Fish Owl, Great Grey Owl. Most are 12 x 24 inches.

The paintings below are mini versions, 3 x 5 inches