Chimps Are Family
LONDON - 27 Jan 2023 onwards
Kingston Upon Thames, London, UK
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LONDON - 20 May - 18 Jan 2023
London Bridge City, London, UK
Visit the sculptures, click for map >
CLICK HERE TO DONATE DIRECTLY TO WWF UK >
PLEASE CLICK ON THE BUTTONS BELOW TO READ ABOUT CHIMP BEHAVIOURS
Gillie and Marc were lucky enough to meet the babies of three of the great ape species, chimps, orangutans and gorillas, in the wild and they were surprised how similar they really are to us. These sweet little babies were just as cheeky as human babies and were very attached to their mums. Gillie and Marc could see them grasp onto things, the same way that human babies do, testament to our evolutionary past. We also noticed that the hands of gorilla are very similar to human hands, a beautiful reminder that even physically, we are still from the same family.
ABOUT THE ANIMAL
The great apes - chimpanzee, orangutan, gorillas, and bonobos - are our closest relatives. We share 98% of our DNA with them so, unsurprisingly, we also share many of the same personality traits! They are a part of our family, and families look out for one another. We have to protect them before we lose one of our own!
Gorillas and chimps are also very intelligent and use tools just like we do. They show the same emotions like laughter and sadness, and use facial expressions, gestures and sounds to communicate, just like humans! They have both been taught basic human sign language showing they can think and express their basic needs in the same way humans can. Seeing the empathy and love that these beautiful apes expressed, moved Gillie and Marc to tears. It was one of the most magical moments of their lives to see how these family units loved and cared for one another, a moment that everyone in the world should experience for themselves.
To make the connection even deeper, chimps and humans are thought to share a common ancestor from 4-8 million years ago. That means we are definitely family, distant cousins! In the Malay language, orangutan means “person of the forest”. The Malay people have obviously seen this similarity with ourselves too!
The similarities between us are clear, we are family. Just as you would help your family through rough times, we must help the great apes escape the threat of extinction. Because that’s what families do for each other, we love each other and look out for one another.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The chimpanzee is our closest living relative, sharing about 99 % of our DNA. It’s even thought that we have a common ancestor who lived sometime between 7-13 million years ago! Through research of we have been able to see some of the magical similarities between us and chimpanzees. We all have our own unique personalities, are incredibly social, can learn basic sign-language, and, most importantly use and make tools.
But despite this amazing connection, humans are the biggest threats to our cousins. Chimpanzees are now endangered because of our actions. Because of major increases in human populations, miles and mile s of their habitat is being destroyed, clearing space for city expansion, agriculture, roads, logging, and mining. This is making it harder and harder for the chimps to survive, forcing them to live in smaller and smaller spaces and putting a major strain on food options. This issue over food, in particular, has led to human-chimpanzee conflict. In their desperation to find enough to eat, the chimps are forced to come to human settlements to steal food, mainly easy to grab things such as fruit, but when things are really tough, they have been known to take children. Families retaliate by killing the chimps to stop any other attacks.
Chimps are also targeted by bushmeat hunters as they provide plenty of meat compared to other smaller animals. The hunters are also known to take the young in as their pets or sell them on the illegal pet trade, a lifestyle that is never suitable for a wild animal .
With DNA so similar to our own it is not surprising that chimpanzees are susceptible to many of the same diseases that we are. Since the 1980s, Ebola has been a major threat killing hundreds of thousands of chimpanzees. More recently it has been found that they are also susceptible to Covid-19, a threat that has, thankfully, not yet had a devastating effect for our cousins.
There is so much we can learn from chimpanzees which in return, will help to unveil many of the secrets of ourselves. But for this, we must protect them before it’s too late. We must make room in our world for our cousins to flourish. Because only when we learn to live together will we all truly thrive.
ABOUT THE SCULPTURES
The Chimps Are Moving! Kingston Upon Thames Gets Ready To Welcome The Wild Sculpture That Wowed London Bridge
10 chimpanzees from the hugely successful public art exhibition, ‘Chimps Are Family’, are off to Kingston Upon Thames, the next in line to welcome the adorable apes in this interactive sculpture for conservation.
London Bridge opened the public exhibition and has played host since May 2022. The sculptures were met with huge excitement with thousands of people heading down to learn and play with the charismatic crew. Now it’s Kingston Upon Thames who will take up the care of 10 of the original 18 chimps from late January 2023.
“We were thrilled to see the reception from the public at London Bridge. Now we’re so excited to reach a whole new group of people in Kingston and spread the message of conservation even further,” shares Marc.
“While we were studying the chimps we were absolutely blown away by how similar they were to us! So many of their behaviours were just like ours and the relationships they have, especially between mother and child, was so heartwarming,” remarked Gillie.
These behaviours are what inspired their public sculpture, ‘Chimps Are Family’. Showcasing 10 different chimpanzee behaviours such as laughing, grief, and imitation, the public is given a unique glimpse into the life of a chimp and a greater understanding of our cousins.
“We really hope that this sculpture will help people to see the very real similarities between us and chimps. They laugh at funny things, get cross with one another, and have wonderful bonds of friendship. We hope that once people see how similar we really are they will be moved to protect them,” explains Marc.
‘Chimps Are Family’ is giving the people of London a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with our cousins, but also the opportunity to save them before it’s too late.
These sculptures are designed to be interactive. The public is encouraged to get as close as they want, touching their faces, examining their hands, and giving them a hug. This unique form of public conservation is here to inspire love and connection.
Each of the chimps will be displayed with a QR code where the public can learn all about the individual chimpanzee and find important information surrounding conservation. They will also have the option to donate funds to go directly to save chimpanzees.
The installation promotes the idea that it is possible to share the world we live in with chimps. It reflects the artists’ commitment to ensuring the survival of the species, with all donations going to WWF.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while studying, the public will be able to meet individual animals. This will help them to realise that there are apes with unique personalities, thoughts and emotions. The loss of one individual is just as devastating as losing an individual human.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save the great apes.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #ChimpsAreFamily to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe. To help protect the great apes and their habitats you can give a donation to WWF-UK by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/chimpsarefamily
If you are interested in buying chimpanzee related art, you will also be directly helping real chimps in the wild with 30% going to WWF to continue their fantastic work for chimpanzee conservation: Click here to browse art > https://gillieandmarc.com/collections/chimps
ABOUT GILLIE AND MARC
Gillie and Marc’s highly coveted public artworks can be found worldwide including in New York, London, Singapore, Shanghai, and Sydney. They are Archibald Prize finalists, won the Chianciano Biennale in Italy, took out the Allens People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2018 and Kids’ Choice Award in the 2016 Sculpture by the Sea and received the Bayside Arts Festival People's Choice Award in 2019 in Sydney.
The husband-and-wife duo are on a mission to make art for a better tomorrow. They are best known for their beloved characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman, who tell the autobiographical tale of two opposites coming together as best friends and soul mates.
Gillie and Marc are also passionate eco-warriors and have dedicated their lives to protecting nature.
Gillie grew up with the wildlife in Zambia and Marc studied chimpanzees in Tanzania as a young man. Over time, the artists developed a deep appreciation for all living things and a desire to preserve the magnificence of the natural world.
Through their art, Gillie and Marc aim to transform passive audiences into passionate advocates for animal conservation. Their mission is to use their work as a platform to continue spreading awareness about endangerment, which will ultimately lead to change and save species from extinction.
Their art has raised hundreds of thousands in donations for the many wildlife charities and causes they support through their project Love The Last.
Please follow @gillieandmarcart
For lovers of primates & rhinos
We're based here in the UK to ensure that we're working as hard as possible to make the greatest positive impact to our planet from your donations. In fact you can come visit us. Our UK headquarters - the Living Planet Centre in Woking - has a visitor and education centre so you can pop in and say 'hi'.
We also have local offices in Edinburgh and Cardiff to make sure that we're able to make change happen at a local level - no matter where you are in the UK.
Donate directly > wwf.org.uk
Shop artworks that give back > Chimps are Family Collection
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