What a pleasure to return to the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle and deliver DRAWING FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES workshops, in corporate partnership with Born Free Foundation, for Year 6 Art Day on Tuesday! Over the course of the day, three Year 6 classes were welcomed to the Art Department by inspirational Artist Teacher Christine Egan-Fowler. Her studio is a hub of incredible creativity, and the department takes me back to uni and my Foundation Course, the standard of art is so high!
It was a packed Art Day itinerary for Year 6 students, filled with amazing workshop's run by authors, felt maker's and creatives of many disciplines. My Biro drawing workshops were scheduled for an hour each class and I am incredibly proud of the magnificent drawings the children made in so little time. It was also wonderful to have older students from Christine's art class join us and make some exceptional drawings. Some of the drawings were unfinished and all fleetingly photographed, but each drawing produced was a thought-provoking representation of vulnerable species.
Diademed Sifaka by 16 year old student
To see children work so hard creating their individually unique drawings, is always an enormous privilege. It was a hard job to select my favourite pieces for a special poster, to celebrate Art Day and the species represented. In particular the drawing below of an orangtan, is one of my favourite workshop drawings ever!
A big thank you to the hugely talented Year 6 and Year 11 students and their teachers for three wonderful workshops and to Graham Mason and the staff of RGS Art Department. A special thank you to Christine Egan-Fowler for her inspiration and magical presence during the workshops.
Orangutan by 10 year old student
ART DAY PREP
All my workshops are tailored to individual school requirements. In preparation for Year 6 Art Day I had to condense the workshops, which usually involve sharing more species and environmental information as well as interactive discussion and drawing. It was important to give Year 6 enough time to make their drawings as well as include a brief discussion about endangered species. Using the evocative phrase a picture is worth a thousand words as inspiration, I honed in on collating portraits of endangered species, captured by world renown photographers, which portrayed each animal's unique beauty and charisma, emphasised through direct eye contact with the lens. One photographer in particular, Tim Flach captures the human side of animals in order to create greater engagement with his subjects. In his book 'Endangered' both his introduction and that of Dr Jonathan Baillie make it abundantly clear that encouraging an emotional connection with wildlife is key to conservation.
Giant Panda: Conservation Status VU Population 1, 864 Photo Credit: Tim Flach
Children have a huge appreciation for the world around them and with little exception, share both a passion for animals and art. Making art is magical and transporting. It gives our brains an opportunity to escape reality and immerse them in the act of creating and self expression, while focusing on the subject in hand. As we can all draw, the aim of my workshops is about giving children and adults both the opportunity to learn about vulnerable species, as well as enjoy being transported by their many and differing forms of beauty, through a method of expression believed to be older than the written word.
Many, particularly those who have pets know what it is to love an animal. Even though most of us are not personally familiar with the subjects in the photographs above, their kin or other vulnerable species like them, it is possible to love, respect and care about their futures, through the work of outstanding photographers or film makers, with a gift for capturing their unique beauty. Combining creativity with education, is a recipe that can engage and open up new pathways to conserving the Earth's precious wildlife.
I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to draw endangered species for various conservation organisations. Included in the species images above is a breathtaking photograph of a red wolf taken by Maggie Howell, Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center. In March I was privileged to see a couple of red wolves when visiting WCC, who are part of a breeding programme to save this species from extinction. With less than 40 wild individuals remaining it's amazing to be able to tell people during the workshops, how beautiful and special red wolves are first hand.
Detail 'Red Wolf' 2017 red Biro drawing for the Wolf Conservation Center
Perhaps the most moving image included is a photograph by Brent Stirton of Sudan, the last male Northern white rhinoceros, horns removed to preserve him from poachers. Born in 1973, he sadly passed away on 19 March 2018. I was in New York a week following his death and saw The Last Three, a monumental statue by Artists, Gillie and Marc Schattner, on display in Astor Place, Manhattan. Next to the statue was a plaque which read:
Sudan, last Northern white rhino Photo Credit: Brent Stirton
Drawing for Endangered Species Workshops were founded in 2014 in corporate partnership with Born Free Foundation and 25% of my workshop fee goes directly to BFF. Huge thanks to RGS for your support of endangered species.