My art is informed by my love of animals. They are my constant companions. I study them, I sculpt them, I try to tell their stories. If I can convey something of those stories in my sculpture, then I feel I have succeeded as an artist. But I’m also acutely aware of the threats they face in the modern world, from habitat loss, from hunting, from climate change. Giving back to wildlife is therefore important to me, and if I can do that through my animal sculpture, then so much the better.
WildAid’s mission is to end illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes. They work to reduce global consumption of wildlife products by persuading consumers and strengthening enforcement. Patrons including HRH Prince William, David Beckham and Leonardo Di Caprio. Last November I gave them a baby rhino sculpture to be auctioned at a charity gala in Beverley Hills. The event was attended by celebrities including John Corbett and Josh Duhamel and was a huge success, raising a staggering $1.5 million!
Animals Asia is a charity I have supported for a number of years now. Founder Jill Robinson started the charity after witnessing horrific scenes in a bear bile farm. She has dedicated her life to rescuing bears from barbaric conditions and campaigns tirelessly to bring about an end to bear bile farming. She’s making a real difference. The Vietnamese government recently announced a complete ban on bear bile farming by 2022.
I donated a moon bear sculpture, entitled To feel the sun on my face, to Animals Asia’s recent charity auction. When I was modelling the bear, I imagined what it must feel like for a rescued bear to go outside and feel the sun on his face for the first time. The evening was presented by Downtown Abbey star Peter Egan and rock music legend Rick Wakeman and raised a massive £130,000!
I’m visiting Vietnam in April and I’m hoping to visit Animals Asia’s bear rescue centre to see for myself the incredible work they do. Giving back to wildlife is an important part of my work. I believe if we all do something, however small, together we can make difference.