Chimpanzee Community BALTIC

'Chimpanzee Community' Mural BALTIC Learning Lounge

"Chimpanzee Community (2020) by Jane Lee McCracken exhibits original drawings by 120 children from Blaydon West Primary, Cedars Academy, Christ Church C of E Primary and Wardley Primary, Gateshead. Encouraged by the artist, these drawings document Chimpanzees as the closest living relative to humans.

Created during workshops at BALTIC in 2020 this mural is inspired by artworks exhibited in BALTIC's 2019/2020 exhibition, Animalesque/Art Across Species and Beings and the chimpanzees of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection." BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art"

BALTIC workshops


As part of BALTIC's Creativity Day in March 2020, I was invited by BALTIC LEARN to deliver Biro drawing workshops to around 120 children from Wardley Primary SchoolBlaydon West Primary School, Cedars Academy, and Christ Church C of E Primary School to create a new artwork in BALTIC Learning Lounge. 

My workshops were inspired by Animalesque exhibition and were also part of her Where Did All the Animals Go? (WDATAG?) art and environmental education project in partnership with Born FreeChimpanzee Community mural was created in response to Marcus Coates Degreecoordinates, Shared Traits of the Hominini (Humans, Bonobos and Chimpanzees) Mary Beth Edelson Untitled 1972 – 2011 collage-drawings artworks featured in Animalesque.

Mary Beth Edelson Untitled 1972 - 2011

The artwork was also inspired by the chimpanzees of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue, a rescue centre and sanctuary founded by Jenny and Jimmy Desmond to rescue chimpanzees, many of which are orphans, from the illegal bushmeat and pet trades. 

Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue founders Jenny and Jimmy Desmond

The aim of my mural, which features the children's drawings, is to highlight the fact that chimpanzees and bonobos are our closest living relatives sharing 99% of our DNA and as Marcus Coates artwork symbolises, all hominini species share similar behaviour traits. 

Image courtesy of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue

Prior to the workshops, I met with teachers from each school for a CPD session at BALTIC with Amanda McMahon of BALTIC LEARN where I delivered a 30-minute practical Biro drawing session giving teachers the opportunity to create drawings of Northumbrian wildlife for WDATAG? online gallery: Wild Postcard Gallery.

CPD Session at BALTIC

During the Chimpanzee Community workshops, children learned about chimpanzee facts, threats, how to help wildlife and viewed BBC Earth's film for the series Baby Chimp Rescue featuring Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue.

Image courtesy of Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue

I gave each child a different chimpanzee image to draw and encouraged them to express through their drawings that like humans, chimpanzees cradle their infants, hug, smile, laugh, play, fight, get angry, get sad and mourn their loved ones.

Maisey, Year 4 artist, Blaydon West Primary

Each child’s unique drawing style communicates the individuality of each chimpanzee depicted. I asked children to sign their first name next to their drawing in order to communicate that each of us no matter our species, is an individual being that lives our life according to our needs.

Drawing of baby chimpanzee eating fruit by Summer


Children's original chimpanzee Biro drawings

In order to create the mural I individually cut out each drawing. This process is intended to visually echo Mary Beth Edelson's mural. Printing copies of each drawing I then placed them on my studio floor to work out the mural layout.

Planning the mural layout

The number of children who produced drawings for the mural mirrors the population of a typical chimpanzee community.

Chimpanzee Community Biro drawings

"Each child worked exceptionally hard to create their drawings and I am immensely proud of their drawings and the mural.

Through the beauty of childart and individual children's Biro drawings inspired by individual chimpanzees engaged in shared everyday activities/expressions, I also hope the mural will create emotional connections leading to compassion for and further conservation of chimpanzees." Jane Lee McCracken


Rebecca, Connor and Harry Wardley Primary

Watch the video

With kind thanks to:

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Born Free
Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue
Participating schools and children
Teachers and BALTIC work placement students, Alyssa and Brad for their mural drawings


Jesse Wardley Primary



Following the workshops Jane designed posters for each participating school to celebrate the Biro drawings made by children for the mural

Wardley Primary Poster

Blaydon West Primary

Cedars Academy 

Christ Church C of E Primary




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