Gillie and Marc Schattner, the internationally renowned public artists, think extinction will never be worth it. As eco-warriors, they are stepping up to the challenge once again to bring the plight of endangered animals to the forefront of people’s minds and hearts to consider how our actions can affect their survival.
After much anticipation, Gillie and Marc, in collaboration with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an elephant orphanage and rehabilitation center in Kenya, will be launching their latest addition to their conservation project #LoveTheLast in the heart of London. The monumental sculpture entitled ‘The Orphans’ was launched on December 4 in Marble Arch, the largest elephant sculpture in the world. This is the most important public installation of elephants in the world, one that cannot wait if we are to save them.
“When I was a little girl growing up in Zambia, I would often go out on safaris. One morning we heard the sound of gunshots being fired and the desperate cry of an elephant. We found a beautiful mother elephant who had been gunned down by poachers. I burst into tears and was filled with an indescribable sadness that I will never forget,” Gillie remembers. Already having an emotional connection to the horrible reality of elephant poaching, Gillie was determined to make a difference.
As are all Gillie and Marc public works, the sculpture has been designed to be interactive. The public is encouraged to climb on them and take photos. But for those interested in making a difference, ‘The Orphans’ (#elephantsoftomorrow) gives an opportunity to adopt a real orphaned elephant. Each of the sculptures is based off one of the elephants from the orphanage, both in its likeness and name. With a QR code on each sculpture, the public receives a direct link to photos of the actual baby, giving an amazing link between the public and the animals. The public can adopt the elephant of their choice by going to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust website, allowing them to play an active part in the daily care and overall survival of the calf.
“We want people to actively be involved in saving the animals of the world. But this is difficult when they’ve never seen one and it’s far from their mind. This is why we choose urban settings for our sculptures, so we can bring the animals to those who wouldn’t usually get to see them and to help them to fall in love,” says Marc.
‘The Orphans’ will be displayed at Marble Arch in London in conjunction with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for 12 months from December 4 2019.