The lowdown on

ANIMUS

An international group show by vegan artists – exploring kinship and disconnection

Curated by Luminous Frenzy

Mother Nature by Amy Guidry

Curator’s Statement (intro)

Our animus towards animals is unprecedented. “Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history” ran a recent headline in The Guardian. “Tens of billions of sentient beings, each with complex sensations and emotions, live and die on a production line”. We tend not to dwell on this, and powerful forces keep it this way. The mantra that we are meant to eat animals so embedded in our culture and economy that we often fail to question it. The farm animal fairytale is one of “happy” lives and “humane” deaths. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The Show

15 artists and 19 images of animals

Exhibited for 7 weeks at Karamel, the multifaceted venue and social space that I run with Frank my partner. With visitors mainly coming for gigs, parties and events – or to eat – we needed to find a way to draw them into the art …

Startling, Sensitive & Surreal

“An eye theme emerged early on” I told Vegan Life magazine “when I realised I was choosing many pieces with the animal looking directly at the viewer. Eye contact is powerful and I hope this draws people in. The photos have been blown-up, so that many animals are life-sized, which gives them greater presence”.

One of Us by Philip McCulloch Downs

Private View

The Launch party on Friday 29th July 2016 was attended by over 70 people, greeted by our lovely volunteer Claudie Tailleur. With speeches from me (Curator), Matthew Maran (Photographer), Philip McCulloch-Downs (Artist), Maria Chiorando (Editor of Vegan Life magazine), and activists from Surge.

Private View

Press

ANIMUS was covered by two prominent art magazines: Apollo – The International Art Magazine and Ours, which published a full-blown feature with the headline:

“VEGANS STUN IN NEW LONDON EXHIBITION: ANIMUS”

A 3-page spread followed in the October issue of Vegan Life magazine, which featured images of exhibits, and an extensive interview with me and two artists.

The exhibition was also covered by VeggieVision (TV channel/website), Veganuary, blogger Fat Gay Vegan, and VegNews magazine (in the US), and reviewed by vegan media presenters Karin Ridgers and Victoria Eisermann.

Response

Some snippets from the Visitors Book:

“Thank you so much for holding this exhibition. I am studying Art at A level and my personal investigation is on Animal Rights so this exhibition was perfect for me! I adore animals so I am taking steps to become vegan” Asheigh & Chandler from Luton

“Wonderful and moving art exhibit. Thank you for showcasing it. Looking forward to more in future” Shayna

“The ANIMUS exhibition shows poignant imagery that gently nudges us to look into the eyes of our beloved fellow sentients. Thank you for existing, keep going, keep growing” Kerry Jayne & Adam

Art Imitating Art

My favourite feedback came from a young girl who drew one of the exhibits. Remarkably, it was my own piece, ‘Charlie’.  A portrait of dog I’d taken when working undercover at an animal research lab. In the photo, his eyes are deeply affecting, and yet in the girl’s drawing they seem more hopeful. A striking likeness too. Future vegan artist, perhaps?

Charlie by Louise Wallis

Artist Outcomes

All the artists were thrilled to take part –  and for some, it was a dream come true having work exhibited alongside the artists who’d inspired them.

Over 2000 people visited Karamel during the exhibition’s run: 24th July – 11th September 2016.

Three exhibits were sold, including this one by Illustrator Roger Olmos.

Wordless by Roger Olmos

In January 2017 at Vegan Life Live, I presented two exhibits by Photographer Joanne McArthur to our sponsors the Vegan Society and Vegan Life magazine – for permanent display in their offices (with Jo-anne’s blessing). By happy serendipity, a third exhibit (which I was attempting to returning to the artist) sold on the spot, at the same event.

The Team

ANIMUS was a 6-way collaboration – with funding from the Vegan Society, Vegan Life magazine, and crowdfunding, and practical support from Luminous Frenzy (that’s us, the Curators), The Sheppard Collection of Vegan Art, and Collage Arts (who provided an exhibition slot).

The Sheppard Collection kindly lent four artworks, which enabled us to stage a full-scale show despite a funding shortfall.

Footnotes

1) Two ANIMUS exhibits, ‘Standing Pig’ by Sue Coe and  ‘Charlie’ (my photo) get a second outing this month in Behind Closed Doors at The Strand Gallery.

2) ANIMUS artist Karen Fiorito (USA) recently gained international notoriety when her billboard of Donald Trump went viral.

Conclusion

ANIMUS demonstrated the potential of art in a vegan context – and hopefully ignited other creative sparks. We know at least one artist it helped to inspire – Aisha Eveleigh, who came to the Private View, and is curating the Behind Closed Doors exhibition in central London later this month.

Come to the Event Day on Sat 27th May if you can, when I’ll be giving a talk. Get your ticket HERE (just £5.00 up to 13th May, and £6.00 thereafter)

Big thanks to all involved in ANIMUS, and everyone who visited. Do leave me a comment if you did.

Luminous Frenzy  (me & Mr Frenzy)

ANIMUS exhibits

‘Wordless’ by Roger Olmos (Spain)

‘Carousel’ by Jana Schirmer (Germany)

‘Maggie’ by Jo-anne McArthur (Canada)

‘Charlie’ by Louise Wallis (UK)

‘Sainsbury’s Fox’ by Matthew Maran (UK)

‘The Azure Lynx and the Wave of Flowers’ by Philip McCulloch Downs (UK)

‘One of Us’ by Philip McCulloch Downs (UK)

‘Hear No Evil. See No Evil. Speak No Evil’ by Dana Ellyn (USA)

‘Mother Nature’ by Amy Guidry (USA)

‘Save Our Sharks’ by Francesca A. Page (UK)

‘Best of British’ by Philip McCulloch Downs (UK)

‘Pig in Slaughterhouse’ by Sue Coe (UK/USA)

‘Lost Whale Swims Up the Thames’ by Sue Coe (UK/USA)

‘Buddha Cat’ by Karen Fiorito (USA) – The Sheppard Collection

‘Farm Sanctuary’ by Jo-anne McArthur (Canada)

‘Day Old Chick’ by Roland Straller (Germany) – The Sheppard Collection

‘Dusky Dolphin’ by Jasper Wilkins (UK)

‘Not Like Sheep to the Slaughter’ by Michelle Waters (USA) – The Sheppard Collection

‘Extinct Animal Malabar Civet’ by Sarah Stupak (USA) – The Sheppard Collection

Buddha Cat by Karen Fiorito