Christie's and Tusk raise £624,000
Twenty-one artists, including Ronnie Wood, Harland Miller, Dave White and Jonathan Yeo donated life-size, fibreglass rhinos to charity organisation Tusk. The rhinos spent the summer dotted across central London in the Rhino Trail to the delight of Londoners and tourists alike. This ingenious celebration of the magnificent creatures reached its finale on the 9th of October 2018, when the rhinos were auctioned at Christie’s to raise a record-breaking £624,000. The live auction fell on the eve of the international Illegal Wildlife Trade conference being hosted by the UK Government, a move cleverly intended to increase social awareness of the perils faced by rhinos at the perfect moment.
Every year 1,000 rhinos are lost to poaching. However, thanks to charities like Tusk, as well as local conservationists, and generous donators across the globe, these figures have gradually begun to drop. Recently the UN passed its first-ever resolutions on illegal wildlife trade, and wildlife crime has been included in the Sustainable Development Goals. This collaboration of artists, charity workers and auctioneers is part of a global drive to protect these stunning creatures. Yet, there is still a lot to be done in order to save these magnificent animals from extinction.
Tusk fund raises globally, and then channels these funds into the most effective organisations across Africa, investing in local expertise and knowledge. “Tusk’s mission is to amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa.” Over the last 30 years, Tusk has pioneered a range of successful conservation initiatives, and helped to increase protection across over 10 million acres! Tusk’s CEO Charlie Mayhew has shared that “Tusk is incredibly grateful to all the amazing artists, generous sponsors and partners involved in the Tusk Rhino Trail for joining forces with us to work toward a future for rhino and other threatened species across Africa.”
Ronnie Wood, who attended art school before becoming the Rolling Stones guitarist is passionate about the protection of rhinos. He has adopted an African Rhino called Spike, for whom his piece was named. “My inspiration is that this beautiful prehistoric creature should be around for future generations of our children to see.” Adorably Wood painted his sculpture in collaboration with his two-year-old twins. Spike raised an amazing £200,000 for Tusk! The rhino sold for £100,000, the highest bid of the evening, and a pledge for a further £100,000 was made by the underbidder for another version of the rhino. “I’ll throw in some VIP Stones tickets, too!” Wood shouted during the bidding.
Contemporary artist Dave White’s beautiful piece titled Fragile received the second highest bid of the evening. White’s paintings are inspired by his love and respect for animals. His art is simultaneously a celebration of the glory and splendour of nature and a warning of its fragility. His rhino and his paintings remind the viewer of the importance of nurturing our environment, while his love for wildlife is evident is his delicate creation.
Harland Miller and Jonathan Yeo also donated stunning and unique rhinos to the cause. Miller’s iconic style and dry wit are unmissable in his beautiful and joyous contribution. The wash of colour that shrouds his piece is a wonderfully unrestrained version of his style, while his distinctive text makes his rhino instantly recognisable. Yeo’s rhino is far less reminiscent of the portraitist’s usual style. Famous for his works that combine the techniques and style of classical portraiture with Vorticism, here Yeo departs from his usual style to brutally highlight the lack of respect and care afforded to wildlife today. Yeo gets across the tragedy of their near extinction in a clever and imaginative way by depicting the rhino as a beast ready for the butcher. Each rhino that was sold that evening was as unique as the animals themselves, and every one has helped to raise vital funds and awareness for the protection for the beautiful creatures.