There aren’t many people who can claim to have spent the best part of two months under a rhino. Fewer still have lived to tell the tale and I suspect even less have managed to get close enough to paint one.
For 3 months I have been plagued with queries of “how’s your rhino?” - a question that is not as random as it first seems. But I’m sensing I’ve lost you already, so let me go back to the beginning.
Rhino Mania is an event that is due to hit the streets of Chester on 5th July 2010. For 10 weeks, the City will be littered with herds of brightly coloured rhino sculptures, designed and painted by all manner of regional and local artists. You might have already seen something similar in Liverpool (Lambananas/Go Penguin), London (Elephant Parade) or Edinburgh (Cow Parade). It’s intended to do one of two things, firstly to celebrate Chester’s cultural identity, and secondly to raise awareness about the plight of the black rhino which has been pushed to the brink of extinction.
As I am a lawyer, you’re probably wondering why on earth I’d be writing about this – the closest I must surely get to expressing my artistic creativity at work is deciding what colour shirt I should wear to the office. Well apart from the fact that I work in Chester, I do have a vested interest in the event because I was lucky enough to design and paint two of the rhinos myself. You can see them both below.
I guess here is where I go on to explain the motivation and inspiration behind each piece. Being a lawyer, as opposed to an artist, there wasn’t really any ‘process’ to talk of – I literally took the brief to heart and tried to produce thought provoking but fun designs. My hope is that I’ve managed to achieve both.
Let me talk you through the designs.
The first one is “Almost Wiped Out” or more lovingly dubbed, Brutus. To me, this piece embodies Rhino Mania. The strong colours and simple design make the piece eye-catching and colourful and leads the viewer to the image of the man literally wiping out the rhino.
As you can imagine, I’ve spent many a long hour painting and varnishing him.
I can’t say it’s the most glamorous job in the world, but it’s certainly been a lot of fun. The second piece ( below) is “While Stocks Last”, christened Polly because of the Polyfilla used on her nose before I started to paint her.
This is a sombre piece that is a direct reference to the way the rhino has been pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching.
The bar code conveys the message that, by many, animals are seen as commercial objects, something you would find on the shelves of a shop, rather than living creatures that should be protected and preserved for future generations.
The design strongly condemns man’s greed and pre-occupation with making money at any cost.
I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to take part in this event and have been honoured to work alongside such talented people. I can only express my heartfelt thanks to all those involved in putting Rhino Mania together and hope that I’ve shown that there is more at least to this lawyer than meets the eye.
Don’t forget the Rhinos will be out on the 5th July 2010 and having seen some of them, you’re in for a treat.
Sara Corley, Solicitor at Chester based Hillyer McKeown by day and Artist by night...
Below Sara Corley (far left) and Hillyer McKeown team with "Almost Wiped Out" outside the Black House Grill, Chester
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