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!
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 on to 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.
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:
This sculpture for the #LoveTheLast conservation series will be focusing on chimps, orangutans, and gorillas, our closest relatives. Looking into our evolutionary history, the sculptures will draw parallels between our relatives and ourselves, making us rethink the importance of these animals, the importance of conservation for them, and importantly, the love we should reserve for them as part of the family.
All three of these apes are facing extinction due to human actions, through illegal poaching and deforestation of their habitat. We must act now to protect our families, to protect the environments they live in, and to save ourselves. By focusing this project on the infants of the three apes as well as human babies, Gillie and Marc want to help people to understand that all babies are the same. They are all at risk, they are all helpless, and they all need our help.
After spending time studying, photographing, and drawing the apes in the wild, Gillie and Marc will create a beautiful bronze bust for each of the three apes, and one of a human baby. They will be highlighting the similarities between the babies of the great apes and our own human children, drawing the viewer in to understand that we are really not so different.
Gillie and Marc will be creating three public bronze sculpture projects of some of the cutest babies in the world; chimps, orangutans, gorillas, and humans. These will be the world’s most innovative sculptures for conservation and will help millions of people to understand our important connection with these creatures and to fall in love with them. All of our babies are helpless and need our love and protection, and hopefully, this will serve as the reminder the world needs.
SCULPTURE 1: BABY PLAYTIME
Baby Playtime will be a large sculpture project of 20 infant chimps, gorillas, orangutan, and humans all playing with one another. This interactive sculpture will highlight the similar IQ levels and behaviours in play of all of these babies. They can play with one another in complete harmony as they have not been taught that they are different species and see each other as the equals that they are. They are just having fun.
SCULPTURE 2: BABIES FOR ADOPTION
This sculpture will show one of each of the four babies but on a massive scale. These towering infants, all playing happily together will throw into sharp relief how similar we really are to our closest relatives. When people start to understand this connection, they will be more ready to help, to adopt them into their family and protect them from the dangers of the world.
SCULPTURE 3: BABY BRAIN
With four, 2.2 metre high, beautiful bronze heads of the four different babies, the public will be able to gain a close up to compare the faces of the infant gorillas, orangutans, chimps, and humans. They will be able to clearly see the similarities, recognising traits shared between us and finding the connections necessary to want to make an active change. This will help to shine a light on our evolutionary past, encouraging people to protect our history and to protect our cousins.
EXHIBITION DATES: Coming soon
EXHIBITION LOCATIONS: Coming soon
PARTNERS: Coming soon
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 #WeAreFamily to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe. To help protect the great apes you can give a donation to any of the many amazing foundations such as the WWF: https://www.worldwildlife.org/