I am pleased to announce that Cervine Bovidae – my largest sculpture to date, has officially joined the Moreton Bay Region Art Collection in Queensland, Australia, under the government’s Cultural Trust Donation Program.
Claude Jones, Cervine Bovidae, 2011, mixed media, 110x50x145cm
This sculpture made it’s debut in my 2011 solo exhibition “Monkey Business“, at Artereal gallery in Sydney and was then a proud finalist in the 2012 Melbourne Sculpture Prize. Now Cervine Bovidae is not only part of a significant art collection but features in “Animal Fanfair” – a thematic exhibition that is the brainchild of curator, Karen Tyler. Tyler has selected 10 artists, whose works call attention to our treatment of animals, raising questions about justice, ethics, sustainability, and human accountability. These artists are Hayden Fowler, Kelly Hussey-Smith, Rod McRae, Emma Lindsay, Sam Leach, Katka Adams, Walter Stahl, Marian Drew, Owen Hutchison and myself. ( I have 4 sculptures and 3 paintings in the exhibition).
Animal Fanfair is now destined for a national tour of approximately 12 venues over two years – going to NT, QLD, NSW, VIC and TAS. Of course a touring exhibition of this scale costs money so whilst the venues are set, the funding is yet to be secured but I am confident that it will go ahead. ( ok fingers crossed just in case). Animal Fanfair is an exhibition that I am especially thrilled to be part of as it represents a kind of gentle yet persuasive art activism addressing issues that are so important to my art practice.
In the meantime my sculpture has a new home and even better, he will not be lonely there as he has family! He joins another work of mine, Beast of Burden – acquired through the Moreton Bay Galleries Collection when it won the Moreton Bay Art Prize in 2011. Beast of Burden also features in Animal Fanfair – I think these 2 works complement each other rather nicely!
Claude Jones, Beast of Burden, 2011, mixed media on paper, 112 x111cm
Note: The taxidermy components of Cervine Bovidae and other sculptures I created around that time are a bit contentious for vegans such as myself ( yes, weirdly my own work is problematic for me). At the time I believed that it was important to use actual animal parts in order to talk about the animals themselves. History had proven that all too often art audiences will interpret images of animals as symbolic or metaphoric of human experiences and I wanted the viewer to consider the animal experience. I now feel differently. Whilst these animal parts were “sustainably’ or ‘ethically’ sourced – as many artists insist, when I became vegan 3 years ago, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of using dead animals in my work. It seemed disrespectful to the life of each animal who has no say in how his or her body is used. I also began to feel uncomfortable with the idea of selling works that incorporated dead animal parts-it seems exploitative to me and that of course is antithetical to my cause. I have discussed this problem with other artists, buyers and curators and they don’t see it as an issue, particularly as I my work focuses on examining animal-human relationships from an animal rights perspective. Someone even pointed out to me that the animals might not be unhappy that their dead body part was used with their best interests at heart, rather than merely stuck on the wall as ‘decoration”. Even so, in 2012, I decided to no longer use taxidermy in my own art, although the Peculiar Annes ( a collaboration) do indeed use taxidermy elements in their work.
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