London Art Reviews

Magazine of art press and reviews from London

Artist John Gledhill “Last Elephant” auction to help environmentalist DSWT.

Monday, 18th August 2014.

Last Elephant by John Gledhill © John Gledhill

Last Elephant by John Gledhill © John Gledhill

John Gledhill made an auction to help environmentalist charity trust. Gledhill is a London based artist. He has created a series of extinction based paintings. He organized an auction of his “Last Elephant” painting (oil on canvas, 127 x 157 cms) and will donate 50% of the proceeds to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT).

The auction took place just in time for World Elephant Day (August 12th). It was possible to bid on the beautiful artwork on eBay.

The Last Elephant is one of a series of images on the subject of the extinction of animals Gledhill started to produce in the early 1990s. This series also includes the large scale painting The Last Tiger (1993) and the forthcoming Last Rhino to complete the triptych. These are the largest land animals on earth and are in the greatest danger of extinction due to poaching and loss of habitat.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is today the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.

The Last Elephant print recently featured in The Independent and Independent on Sunday, when it was donated as part of their Elephant Appeal campaign.

John Gledhill explains that the scene for these works is an imagined one, set in the near future when the last surviving example of the animal is being paraded from town to town, to give people one last chance to see it. At first, the animal was caged but the bars obscured the view of the creature, so Gledhill removed them. Most of the people in the image are on the whole indifferent to the fact that the elephant portrayed is the last of its kind. In a sort of carnival atmosphere, only one or two people try to draw the crowd’s attention to the headline in the paper the man is holding.

John Gledhill said: “Although the paintings carry a hard message they are intended to be primarily hopeful and optimistic. For me these animals are themselves magnificent works of art, and by including them in my own art works I wanted to help create a desire in people to hold on to them. By celebrating their beauty in paint I wanted to add my voice to the call to halt their decline before it is too late and help motivate and incentivize people to action no matter how small to save these wonderful creatures.”

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was one of the first organizations to deal with the rescue, hand-rearing and rehabilitation of orphaned baby elephants and rhinos, so they can ultimately enjoy a life back in the wild when grown. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) protects and preserves all wildlife and habitats in Kenya. So far, DSWT has successfully hand-reared over 160 orphaned baby elephants. The Mobile Veterinary Teams make sure wild elephants remain protected amid increased poaching threats within Kenya. Supporting these operations are eight fully trained Anti- Poaching Teams assigned to patrol Tsavo National Park, arrest offenders and remove illegal snares and weaponry. DSWT has over 50 years’ wildlife conservation experience and a deeply rooted family history.

Another activity of DSWT is to fund educational trips and campaigns, inspiring locals to learn more about the importance of wildlife protection.

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