In Homage to the Last Great Carnivores of Eurasia

This collection of Biro drawings, prints and fine English china celebrates the beauty and majesty of threatened and endangered carnivores across the Eurasian continent, while highlighting the challenges they face in an uncertain world. Eight Biro drawings were originally created for Jane’s solo installation The Woodcutter's Cottage, as the designs for a special dinner plate set. The exhibited plates were part of a collection of objects belonging to The Woodcutter, an avatar whose perceptions of the beauty and destruction he encounters throughout European forests are reflected in the artwork he makes. Biro drawings from this continuing series have been beautifully reproduced as limited edition prints and a collection of fine English china.

Sweet Wolves - 2012 black Biro drawing

Sweet, the first drawing of grey wolves diptych was inspired by Jane’s Northern Inuit dog and muse Lily.  Sweet explores the close family relationships shared by wolves through a tale of love and loyalty between a white wolf and its black mate.  The foundations for this piece were generated during a trip to Romania, where Jane encountered storks for the first time. Their colouring reminded her of Lily.  Drawing a hybrid of a pseudo-wolf with stork wings suggests heavenly innocence and creates a distinct contrast with the ominous presence of the black wolf depicted in Revenge, the second drawing of the Wolves diptych. 

 

 

 

Revenge Wolves

Revenge Wolves - 2012 black Biro drawing

The second drawing of grey wolves diptych Revenge is inspired by an infamous tale of love and loyalty between a wolf and his mate.  Transforming into a superhero, the black wolf takes revenge for the loss of its mate the white wolf portrayed in Sweet. Inspired by an image of a real wolf caught in a trap about to be shot by a hunter, Revenge juxtaposes animal for human and turns the gun on the hunter. Paying homage to the North American gray wolf, the black wolf body metamorphoses into that of the Comedian from the film Watchmen 2009 Zack Snyder. An image of Blanca the mate of one of America’s most famous wolves Lobo appears on the Comedian’s shoulder armour.  Blanca was trapped and killed to lure and capture Lobo who shared her fate, as recorded by Ernest Thompson Seton in his book Lobo the King of Currumpaw. The pelts of dead wolves collected during the government led extermination of wolves in the U.S.A, which continued up until the 1960s are projected on the wolf's forearm. The white wolf and the black wolf in Sweet and Revenge signify the struggle to change misplaced prejudice and conserve wolf species across the world.

 

 

 

Our Forefathers Amur Leopard

Our Forefathers Amur Leopard - 2013 black Biro drawing

The first drawing of Amur Leopard diptych Our Forefathers contemplates the origins and repercussions of man’s fascination with collecting natural exotica from early European exploration to the present day. This is symbolised by a representation of Rembrandt’s etching The Windmill 1641, as the windmill becomes an exotic folly for three Amur leopards, one of the world’s most endangered species.  A 17th century Dutch flintlock pistol is aimed at the leaping leopard, whose fragmented body represents the fragility of this species.  Approximately 57 Amur leopards exist in the wild. Their population has risen from 35 individuals when Our Forefathers and Our Loss were made in 2013. Amur leopards mostly inhabit Ussuriland, Russia with an estimated population of 7-12 individuals in China.

 

Our Loss Amur Leopard

Our Loss Amur Leopard - 2013 black Biro drawing

The second design of the Amur Leopard diptych Our Loss pays homage to Amur leopards, one of the world's most endangered species.  The diptych contemplates man’s fascination with collecting natural exotica and the impact it has upon wildlife. Inspired by Cartier's commercial L’Odyssée de Cartier 2012 Bruno Aveillan, Our loss depicts two magnificent leopards looking out of the drawing towards an uncertain future. 

 

Shh, it's a Tiger! Siberian Tiger

Shh, it's a Tiger! Siberian Tiger 2013 black Biro drawing

Shh it’s a Tiger! is the first drawing of the Siberian Tiger diptych.  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 of 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, while fewer than 3,500 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, almost hunted this tiger subspecies to 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 Gordon Buchanan, played on screen, the couple proclaim the fragility of both wild tiger and Udege populations. The tranquillity of the forest is shattered by a loud noise. The wading tiger looks out of the drawing in the direction of the sound. A sniper rifle hidden in the foliage indicates what he has seen – beyond the drawing a hunter has fired at the walking tiger in the second drawing of the diptych, Bang!

Bang! Siberian Tiger 2013 black Biro drawing

The second drawing of Siberian Tiger diptych Bang! pays homage to the elusive Siberian tiger and symbolises why they are threatened.   Stalking out of the white page, a magnificent tiger is unknowingly being watched. A tiger skull layered with the image of Red Army soldiers displaying a dead tiger they have killed during a trophy hunt, portrays the initiating circumstances that lead to the rapid decline in Siberian tiger numbers. A bullet hole in the skull draws a parallel to Shh, it's a Tiger! and the suggestion of a present day hunter. 

Mummy Bear and Baby Bear - Brown Bears

Mummy Bear and Baby Bear Brown Bears 2013 black Biro drawing

Mummy Bear and Baby Bear is the first drawing of Brown Bears diptych.  A Russian Brown bear treads across the white page with a rich tapestry of symbolism woven through his fur, including an interpretation of artist Anselm Kiefer’s attic. An old soviet war poster was used as inspiration to illustrate the harsh Russian winters faced by female bears and their cubs, a time when hibernating brown bears are most at risk from mankind.  Mummy Bear and Baby Bear highlights the practice of den hunting in Russia. Hibernating adult bears are woken by hunters dogs entering their dens.  Chased by the dogs, bears are shot as they emerge from their den. This results in the orphaning of cubs if the female bear has produced a litter. Using Anselm Kiefer’s painting, Parsifal III, 1973 as the under layer of the drawing, this piece not only depicts the physical painted elements of Kiefer’s dark den like attic but also Kiefer’s symbolism, his bold challenges of recent history and the fact that Kiefer’s attic represents the origin of time. In Mummy Bear and Baby Bear this signifies man's relationship with the animal kingdom, both good and brutal. Kiefer’s portrayal of the Parsifal Saga and Wagner’s Parsifal Opera include the symbolic holy spear which in this drawing penetrates the cub’s neck creating Jung’s Amfortas Wound - the wound that never heals. Jane’s representation of the Amfortas Wound not only suggests that mankind continues to walk a destructive path despite knowledge and understanding of the consequences of such destruction not only upon ourselves but the environment. It also implies the pain of ‘loss’ that never completely heals. In the centre of the piece, inspired by Viktor Koretsky’s 1942 WWII propaganda poster Red Army Soldiers, Save Us!, a mother bear holds her cub close. With references to the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears the drawing also poses the question "where’s Daddy bear?”, is he a victim of den hunting? The gun thrust into the faces of Mummy bear and Baby Bear is a WWII Russian PPSH41 Sub Machine gun replacing the German bayonet in Koretsky’s original artwork, suggesting Russians hunting their own national symbol, the Russian brown bear.

The Orphans - Brown Bears

The Orphans Brown Bears 2013 black Biro drawing

The second drawing of Brown Bears diptych The Orphans is inspired by Ivan Shishkin’s painting Morning in a Pine Forest 1889, is one of Russia’s most popular paintings which depicts three bear cubs and their mother All traces of the mother bear are removed from The Orphans drawing and an ethereal forest setting is created as their playground. Eerie creatures are formed from pine branch and foliage patterns inspired by the Rorschach Inkblot Test, and evoke the precarious world in which the cubs inhabit without their mother’s protection.  A large bear cub balancing on the main branch looks across at a ghostly mirror image of itself.  This indicates the legacy den hunting creates for young bears. On a another branch (far left) bear siblings play through the ghosts of previous orphans in the form of Shishkin’s painted bears. On the lower trunk is an image of the face of Wojtek, the Soldier Bear, an orphaned Syrian brown bear adopted by soldiers of the 22nd Artillery Supply Company of the Polish II Corps in WWII.  The symbolism of Wojtek implies the same question posed in Mummy Bear and Baby Bear - what has happened to the cubs father, is he a victim of den hunting too?  Depicted below the face of Wojtek is the Polish regimental badge which portrayed Wojtek carrying artillery ammunition. 

 

Yin and Yang - South China Tiger

Yin and Yang South China Tiger 2014 black and neon orange Biro drawing

The first artwork of quadriptych South China Tiger and part one of The Legend of the Last South China Tiger written and drawn especially for Save Wild Tigers, UK organisation.

Part One

And so the legend of the last wild South China tiger begins …

Under the constellation of the White Tiger of the West, protected by the sacred Tigress Warriors of Yin, the last wild South China tiger cub, Amoy cowers behind the most powerful of the Tigress Warriors. Amoy can hear the reverberation of horses’ hooves coming closer. In the East under the constellation of the Azure Dragon, the warriors of Yang ride out in search of Amoy. Clouds of dust raised by the galloping cavalry form Goddesses of Love in the sky, anticipating his capture, for the Azure Dragon prizes the bones of the White Tiger’s children. Misguidedly he thinks tiger parts cure disease and heighten passion and has slain Amoy’s relatives one by one.   But the Tigress Warriors are brave and fearless and their swords are sharp. Amoy’s eyes widen with fear as the cavalry draws closer.

Butterfly Lover - South China Tiger

Butterfly Lover South China Tiger 2014 black and neon orange Biro drawing

Second drawing of South China Tiger quadiptych, specially made for Save Wild Tigers, UK organisation. 

Part Two of The Legend of the Last South China Tiger ...

Amoy has survived and thrived under the protection of the Tigress Warriors and grown into the most magnificent male tiger that ever lived in China. He rolls on his back in the sunshine and plays with butterflies. Softly the music of the ‘Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto’ drifts over him and turns into musical notes glistening on his sleek fur. Then, the butterflies begin to transform and suddenly the beautiful face of Zhu Yingtai appears on the wings of the first butterfly. Amoy is so entranced by her beauty, he begins to dream of a mate. All of a sudden the face of the most beautiful tigress he could ever imagine emerges on the wings of the second butterfly. Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo, the ‘Butterfly Lovers’, begin to appear on his fur. Amoy smiles – he rolls over and dreams of his mate and the survival of his species, and continues to play with butterflies.

Butterfly Lover Zhu Yintai

 

 

Butterfly Lover Zhu Yintai South China Tiger 2014 colour Biro drawing

Third drawing of South China Tiger quadriptych.

 

Cherry Blossom Girl - South China Tiger

Cherry Blossom Girl South China Tiger 2014 colour Biro drawing on oriental fan

The fourth artwork in South China Tiger quadriptych and epilogue to the The Legend of the South China Tiger

Epilogue

High up in the great mountains of China, in a little known village there lives a beautiful young tigress. Orphaned as a cub, her mother killed by poachers, she was found by a villager who rescued her. Loved by all and allowed to roam freely under the villager's protection, she has thrived. One day an enchanting butterfly appears. As she flutters in the wind that swirls through the streets, round the houses and over the bridge, someone glimpses the twitch of a tiger’s tail in the cherry blossom drifts that have fallen from the trees. Following the intrepid trail of Butterfly Lover Zhu Yingtai, Amoy, once thought to be the last South China Tiger, has travelled far up the mountain to discover his destiny. He enters the village, crosses the bridge and is united with the beautiful Tigress of his dreams.

FURTHER INFORMATION

South China Tiger quadriptych is inspired by the following films: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2000 Ang Lee, Hero 2002 Zhang Yimou, House of the Flying Daggers 2004 Zhang Yimou 2004, Red Cliff 2008 John Woo and 2046 2004 Wong Kar-wai. An image of an emaciated captive South China tiger from a tiger farm is reflected on the sword of the most powerful Tigress Warrior in Yin and Yang.  Images of Chinese actresses Zhang Ziyi and Faye Wong became the inspiration for the cloud Goddesses of Yang. Butterfly Lover was made especially for Save Wild Tigers and also inspired by the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto 1959 Chen Gang and He Zhanhao. The Chinese title of the concerto appears on the fur of Amoy’s shoulder. The face of the heroine Zhu Yingtai from the old Chinese legend Butterfly Lovers is inspired by Faye Wong 2046. This quadriptych symbolises the fate of the South China tiger subspecies, which is thought to only survive in captivity. It also carry a message of hope, that the vital work of organisations like Save Wild Tigers is ensuring that other tiger subspecies continue to play with butterflies.  Butterlfy Lover, Cherry Blossom Girl, and Weeping Durga (below) were auctioned in London and Kuala Lumpur at SWT events to raise funds for the conservation of wild tigers.

 

Weeping Durga - Royal Bengal Tiger

Weeping Durga - Royal Bengal Tiger 2015 colour Biro drawing

First artwork of Royal Bengal Tiger diptych.  Blue Tiger sculpture the second artwork in the diptych is a work in progress.