Chimps Are Family exhibition is coming to Kingston

Published Jan 2023

Ten chimpanzee sculptures from a public exhibition: Chimps Are Family are heading to Kingston Upon Thames on January 27 from a previous residence near London Bridge.

Artists, Gillie and Marc Schattner, partnered with Kingston First, the UK’s first Business Improvement District, to bring these playful chimps to Kingston for the next six months.

The artists hope by putting wildlife front and centre in major cities across the world that the public see wildlife as family and as something worth protecting.

Gillie and Marc studied chimps in Africa and saw how similar they were to humans regarding their behaviours and relationships with one and other.

According to a Science study Chimpanzees share around 99% of their DNA with humans.

The exhibition showcases the chimps participating in common activities such as playing, tool use and throwing as well as expressing emotions of love, laughter and grief.

Gillie and Marc said: “They can see these behaviours up close, looking into the animal’s eyes, touching them, and learning.

The exhibition aims that by sharing information about the threats to chimpanzees it will bring conservation into the public mind and take action rather than be mere bystanders.

One small way the public can do this is by sharing photos on social media of the exhibition and donating, via a given link on the sculptures, to WWF to help with conservation work for these lovable creatures.

Gille and Marc said: “Many people don’t act for conservation because it’s not their most important issue. 

“Living in cities, they don’t see the damage of habitat destruction or poaching and don’t understand what that means for the planet.”

Gillie was born in Kingston Hospital and lived in Kingston for her first years before moving to Africa while her husband, Marc is from Australia.

The pair expressed how their own love story inspired them to share the beauty of difference and the joy it can bring and this message is evident in all their exhibitions.

Marc’s favourite exhibition was King Nyani, the largest bronze gorilla sculpture in the world, based on watching real mountain gorillas in Uganda.

The King Nyani exhibition was the artists best received project with it raising thousands of dollars for gorilla conservation work and lead to the creation of two more editions.

This exhibition can now be found in Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, The Bruce Museum in Illinois and in Taronga Zoo in New South Wales, Australia. 

Gillie and Marc said: “We’re so excited to see the chimps in their new home in Kingston Upon Thames. 

“We can’t wait to see the Kingston locals’ response.”

Featured image credit: Chris Dalton 

“This is an experience they will never be able to have in the wild or at a zoo.”

Personnel space is not a problem for these chimps, the public is encouraged to get up close as they want as the chimps are designed to be interactive.