Shh, it's a Tiger! Siberian Tiger | In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia 2013 black Biro drawing
Shh it’s a Tiger! is the first drawing for the Siberian Tiger diptych from the series In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia. A Russian fantasy set in Ussirland, home to both the Udege people and the Siberian or Amur tiger, this artwork was inspired by the iconic imagery of Royal Bengal tigers bathing in the forest pools of India’s, Ranthambore National Park. Albrecht Dürer’s watercolour Landscape with a Woodland Pool,1496, a photograph of a lake in Ussuriland and Ivan Shishkin’s painting The Forest of Countess Mordvinova,1891 provided inspiration for the drawing layers which form the forest backdrop.
At the edge of a lake where a tiger has come to bathe, sits an antique Russian dacha birdcage belonging to Jane. Inside the cage a reclining Siberian tiger not only symbolises Bengal tigers shading in the ruined palaces of Ranthambore, but also highlights the escalating numbers of tigers in captivity, with more than 7,000 in captivity in the United States alone, while fewer than 3,900 individuals remain in the wild.
A giant Siberian tiger sweeps through the forest, illustrating Amba, the Udege name for tiger meaning Guardian of the Forest. A Red Army cavalry breaks through the trees, signifying both Red and White Armies who, while based in Vladivostok during the Russian Revolution, relentlessly hunted this tiger subspecies to the verge of extinction.
To the right of the cavalry, a ghostly tiger and an Udege woman walk side by side. Inspired by photographs Jane took of her television screen as a recording of Amba the Russian Tiger 2008 by Gordon Buchanan, wildlife film-maker, played on screen, the couple proclaim the fragility of both wild tiger and Udege populations, as if they are walking together towards extinction.
The tranquillity in the forest is shattered by a loud noise. The bathing tiger looks out of the drawing in the direction of the sound. A sniper rifle hidden in the foliage bottom right, indicates what he has seen – beyond the drawing a hunter has fired at the walking tiger in the second drawing of the diptych, Bang!