Ardmore Australian Ark
Ardmore artists have always enjoyed telling stories through their art. By expressing their hopes and fears, they find ways to connect with a global community of people who share their passion for creativity and conservation.
As we watched from afar while devastating bushfires consumed vast swathes of Australia during January 2020, our artists were deeply saddened to learn that perhaps one billion wild creatures had lost their lives. It’s an almost incomprehensible number, but they were able to use their talents to express their sorrow – and their hopes for the rebirth of Australia’s wild places.
Inspired by a widely circulated image of a lady taking off her shirt to wrap and comfort an injured koala, Victor Mtshali began to work with the idea of saving creatures from peril.
Also drawing on the book of Genesis, Victor sculpted an ark filled with iconic antipodean wildlife: kookaburras, kangaroos, koalas and duck-billed platypus. This represented a new departure for Ardmore – the first time that our artists have ventured out from their home continent in terms of subject matter.
Mthulisi Ncube found solace in lockdown by lovingly painting the ark in his room in the nearby village. He added koalas at the windows of the ark for a playful contrast with the sculpted forms, and also as a way of expressing the lockdown experience of gazing out on an uncertain world.
Painted flames lick at the edges of the sculpture, and yet the passengers are safe aboard their Australian Ark. The sides of the vessel carry telling quotes from two of the greatest living conservationists, Jane Goodall and Sir David Attenborough (“Cherish the natural world because you're a part of it and you depend on it”).
This wonderful work memorialises all the animals who perished in these terrible fires and reminds us of how fragile our world has become. It also serves as a warning that if we as humans do not learn to care about our planet, we may wake up one day to find that the lifeboat is too crowded for us all.
Dimensions: H 30cm; L 70cm; W 30cm