Shifting its weight from one foot to another, the beautiful, gentle giant is like the bulkiest, heaviest dancer you’ve ever seen. But it’s not dancing.
“That’s how it takes some of the weight off of its feet”
“That’s how it cools down in the summer”
“That’s what they do when they’re waiting to be fed”
keepers chorus. They’re all lying.
Her eyes tell the truth. Her name is Mali and she’s rocked and swayed alone in her cell for almost 40 years.
Maternal creatures, social creatures, beings that love and grieve and not only remember their dead existed, but also when they died; where they died.
When the Nazis used solitary confinement to send their prisoners slowly mad is was called barbaric. When it happens in zoos we call it entertainment, amusement, an attraction…
When Born Free Foundation announced their ambitious plans to build an elephant sanctuary in Europe, I cheered a little inside!
My response on the outside?
On 3rd July I held my first ever independently planned, organised and executed art exhibition – to raise funds for the cause – hosted at the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford, which was formerly my high school building.
It took six weeks for the entire thing to materialise from start to finish, and in the end included a launch event with live music from Nick Stephenson, a charity raffle, a tombola stand, a cake stall and a children’s art competition with two categories (under 10s and 10-16 years old) and prizes provided by local organisation ZEBRA TM, who work closely with a number of charities. They also provided refreshments on the launch night, with their Managing Director Warren Short delivering a speech, and their ZEBRA mascot handing out the prizes to the lucky winners.
Although it was brilliant to sell art work, exhibit works by Thetford Sketch Club’s Kevin Moore and Thetford Cartoon Club’s Danielle Adams, and hand out great raffle prizes (provided by: Charles Burrell Centre, Centre Stage Dance School, Zak’s diner, Chilterns, Pruce Newman Pipework, Discovery Education, Nick Stephenson Music, Carol Petch, Mary Matthews, Rosemary and Christopher Snowdon and myself); the most fulfilling part of the exhibition, for me, was collecting and displaying the young people’s art work.
There were 18 entries to the upper age group category, many from Thetford Grammar School and the Thetford Sketch Club, and seven entries to the younger ones’ competition, so hopefully there are now 25 children that are now aware of the Born Free Foundation and thinking about animals!
I’ve included their judges’ comments below:
Will Travers, Born Free Foundation President and 10-16s art competition judge:
I have gone for Charlotte Ogilvie as the winner. “There is something other-worldly about Charlotte’s artistic vision. It captures the fragile nature of the Arctic and the sense that its Polar bears may not survive for much longer unless we reverse global warming. Thought-provoking. Congratulations Charlotte.”
The runner up is Charlie Trowel. “This is a sophisticated work of art with a ghostly feel. Charlie uses colour in a different and original way with great attention to texture that delivers a real sense of wild nature. Well done Charlie.”
Katie Parfett was chosen as 2nd runner for the style and detail of her drawing of a lion.
Cher Chevalier, Animals Actually Founder and Under 10s art competition judge:
Well done to all of you who entered the Under 10s Art Competition!! We love all of your pictures, and we had a tough job selecting our favourite! But here goes ….. drum roll …. the Winner of the Under 10s Competition is: Maisy aged 3. CONGRATULATIONS MAISY!! Your picture of a Pig is fabulous!!” HOORAY
With the competition winners announced, live music complete and raffle prizes drawn, I finished the evening off with a screening of the incredible short documentary; The Elephant in the room, with the permission of Producer Amanda Gardner.
Watching the powerful film projected up onto the wall amongst the artworks really brought home the motivation for holding the exhibition.
With that message in mind, the works remained in place for a further week, until the 10th July.
Over £250 was raised, but perhaps more importantly, the work of Born Free was highlighted and the plight of the beautiful Mali, and other elephants like her, has touched a few more hearts.
A wonderful success all round!