To preserve Britain’s endangered biodiversity, prominent British artists have partnered up with over 500 museums in the UK. The project, titled “The Wild Escape”, is one of the largest museum collaborations funded in England by Arts Council England. Participants include Yinka Shonibare and Heather Phillipson as well as FKA twigs.
“The Wild Escape” is designed for U.K. elementary school children. They are encouraged to create artworks inspired from the animals and flora that have been affected by climate change. Their animals will then be animated by PRELOADED, an immersive games studio.
The U.K. charity Art Fund is responsible for the project in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and English Heritage.
Original artwork was also created by British veterans.
Tahliah Barnett, an art pop polymath best known for FKA twigs has imagined a (un)earthly self portrait in which her likeness grows from and slithers alongside U.K. wildlife. She is fused to the body and snout of a beetle, and elsewhere, a snake. The work, A self portrait in Venus through a twofold screen,was inspired The Rokeby Venus (1647), by Diego Velazquez. It also features the Twofold Screenby screen painting by Shibata Zeshin (19th century), which is part of the Khalili Collections.
According to twigs, her artwork is a kind of self-portrait that she did with the world, fertility, eternity, and questions about my legacy. She used animals and creatures to express how she felt.
She said, “I love authentic things and organic and wild things. I consider myself a wild woman.”
Mark Wallinger, a Turner Prize winner, created Fled Is That Music. This is an inspiration from the totemic Romantic poem “Ode to Nightingale”, by John Keats. Keats used the nightingale as a vessel to contemplate the inevitable oblivion.
“Nightingales have lost 93% of the population since the 1960s, and they are now in danger here on our shores. Wallinger released a statement saying that the idea that a small bird, which inspired one of English literature‘s greatest works (is under threat) is quite devastating. “I have removed 93% of the poem to make it easier for me to leave the last four-and-a half lines, where the nightingale vanishes,” Wallinger said.
Es Devlin, an artist from the United Kingdom, created an image of the Phoenix fly. This is another species that faces extinction. Inspired by British scientists’ early fieldwork, the artist created this work using quick sketches.
The Natural History Museum published its Biodiversity Trends Explorator report in 2021. It stated that nearly half of the UK’s ecosystem had been destroyed by land development since 1970. According to the study, 25% of U.K.’s mammals are endangered and 5% of its plants are at risk.
Jenny Waldman, Art Fund director, stated in a statement that “The Wild Escape” is a unique event. We want to demonstrate how museums can work together to bring new perspectives to learning and to welcome children’s creative responses about our amazing collections. Every child should be able to enjoy and learn from the museums, while also highlighting the danger of biodiversity loss in the country, which is one of the most important challenges of our time.