Using art as a means to communicate a global and environmental message, in 2019 Jane Lee McCracken in partnership with Born Free Foundation and a group of dynamic teachers organised the following pilot exhibition at Thought Foundation, Gateshead:
- Where Did All the Animals Go? An Exhibition of North East School Children’s Drawings Working with Artist, Jane Lee McCracken 20 June – 22 July 2019.
Jane worked with over 400 children from nine schools delivering drawing workshops for children to create portraits of endangered species to be displayed alongside a selection of Jane's artwork at the exhibition. This exhibition gave children from local schools the opportunity to see their work on display while encouraging children, parents, carers and families to further their understanding about the environmental issues the WDATAG? project raises.
Children of Jarrow Cross Primary School visiting Where Did All the Animals Go exhibition to see their work on display and research the exhibition for their Arts Award project
Using simple materials with the artist at its hub, and with her long-standing partnership with renown international wildlife charity Born Free, the project involves North East schools and communities with whom Jane has built trusted relationships. The group of Education Partners whose knowledge, dedication and enthusiasm is seen as a tremendous asset to the project, includes:
Christine Egan-Fowler, Artist Teacher RGS, co-instigator & Project Partner
Linda Peacock, Art Co-ordinator, Jarrow Cross Primary School, co-instigator & Project Partner
Katie Lawrenson, Art Co-ordinator, Mortimer Primary School, South Shields Education Partner
Sara Punshon, Arts Co-Ordinator, St Mary Magdalen RCVA Primary, Seaham, Education Partner
Sandi Letton, Arts Co-Ordinator, Bexhill Academy, Sunderland, Education Partner
Samantha McCulloch, Junior School Staff, RGS, Education Partner
Africa species 2019 colour Biro drawings, children of Jarrow Cross
One inspired child is potentially a future creator and conservationist. WDATAG? project creates opportunities for children to champion global issues.
The project also questions how animals are traditionally placed in our childhood psyche, and challenges this to emphasise that humans need to live in harmony with wildlife in order to preserve our only habitat, Earth. It also reinforces the ethos of Born Free, that wildlife belongs in the wild.
Image courtesy of Will Travers OBE and Born Free
Participating schools and teachers included:
Christine Egan-Fowler, Artist Teacher, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle
Linda Peacock, Arts Co-Ordinator, Jarrow Cross CE Primary School
Sara Punshon, Arts Co-Ordinator, St Mary Magdalen RCVA Primary, Seaham
Sandi Letton, Arts Co-Ordinator, Bexhill Academy, Sunderland
Katie Lawrenson, Arts Co-Ordinator, Mortimer Primary School, South Shields
Ridgeway First School, Whitley Bay
St Oswald’s RC Primary School, South Shields
Whickham Parochial School
Europe and Oceania species colour Biro drawings by children from St Mary Magdalen Primary School and Mortimer Primary School
The exhibition provided an opportunity to experience the beauty of child art as well as form connections with each vulnerable species, through the creative response of a generation of young people.
Honey Bee 2019 colour Biro drawing, Lucas Year 4 St Mary Magdalen RCVA Primary School, Seaham
On display also, were Jane’s original Biro drawings and large format prints of her drawings exploring loss generated by human destruction and representational of both life’s beauty and brutal reality, creating memorials of lives lived, both human and animal and ways of life and environments lost. Her intricate drawings take several months to research and make and incorporate complex and symbolic drawing layers, which also encompass her love of film, bringing a cinematic quality to her art.
Hiroshima Unicorn Pinup (detail) 2017 green Biro drawing, WAR series Jane Lee McCracken
As exhibition curator, Jane produced:
- An illustrated booklet given to each participating child and endorsed by Born Free Education, which included species information, environmental education, and drawing and portraiture tips
- The exhibition, which included 50 framed A2 Biro drawings by children aged 5 -11 years old accompanied with species information labels; a selection of Biro drawings and large format prints by Jane; a ‘Community Wall’ of Biro drawings created by adults and children in a special project fundraising workshop delivered by Jane in January 2019
- A film catalogue of all participants’ drawings to ensure that each child’s work was represented in the exhibition. This film was projected on the gallery wall so that drawings appeared in large scale format alongside conservation status and species population to give further impact to the plight of each species
- A pop-up shop featured three newly commissioned A3 posters designed by Jane featuring a variety of children’s drawing, from schools across the North East; selling to raise funds for Born Free Foundation, WCS Malaysia and Save Wild Tigers
- Jane ran a series of brilliant Biro drawing workshops, open to all ages, throughout the exhibition
- A free leaflet, available throughout the exhibition, as part of the educational resources provided: 12 Ways You Can Help Wildlife includes contributions from Will Travers OBE, Laura Gosset and David Bolton, PC Peter Baker, Dr. Melvin Gumal and Jane
- A dedicated project page: janeleemccracken.co.uk/blogs/where-did-all-the-animals-go
- Three films which can be viewed here
- Fundraising prints of the children’s drawings (with permission from the schools and artists) are available from Jane’s online store here: janeleemccracken.co.uk/collections/exhibition-posters-and-prints
Harry Year 4 Mortimer Primary School, South Shields with his Great White Shark 2019 colour Biro drawing
EXHIBITION PREVIEW 2019
Jane Lee McCracken at Where Did All the Animals Go? exhibition before opening, Thought Foundation
The preview for the Where Did All the Animals Go? An Exhibition of North East School Children's Drawings Working with Artist Jane Lee McCracken was held on 20 June 2019 at Thought Foundation.
Showreel displaying a catalogue of drawings by every participating child