Since she can remember, Artist Jane Lee McCracken has always loved animals and drawing. As a child she was never without a pen and paper and spent her pocket money on wildlife magazines. When she was eight years old, Jane learned that the Caspian tiger had been declared extinct. Unable to comprehend the demise of such a magnificent species she made a promise to do what she could to help wildlife. Her promise led Jane to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable wildlife over the course of her life and through her art practice, which explores the theme of loss generated by human destruction. Since 2012 as part of her practice Jane has delivered drawing workshops to thousands of people globally.
Her belief that education is a key component to reversing the biodiversity crisis, drove Jane in 2014, to found Drawing for Endangered Species (DFES) workshops, in partnership with Born Free international wildlife charity. These workshops were established to share her passions for drawing and wildlife while highlighting the plight of threatened species. After a pilot workshop at St Peter's RC Primary, Scarborough, organised by her friend Linda Haddington, Teaching Assistant at the school, Jane continued to deliver DFES workshops to hundreds of children and adults across North East England.
In 2019 Jane founded Where Did All the Animals Go? (WDATAG?) international art and environmental education project, also in partnership with Born Free, supported by Laura Gosset, Born Free's Head of Education, Charlie Baker, Education Officer, and David Bolton, former Education Officer. Initiated by Artist Teacher, Christine Egan-Fowler (Royal Grammar School Newcastle) and Cultural Lead, Linda Peacock (Jarrow Cross Primary), who suggested Jane should organise an exhibition of children's work from her workshops, they formed the WDATAG? North East Team. As part of the project Jane organised the 2019 and 2021 Where Did All the Animals Go? Exhibitions working with over two thousand schoolchildren. She also organised the Endangered Species Conferences in 2019 and 2021 with support from Born Free Education and RGS.
In 2020 Jane visited Dr. Kirsten Rogers, her cousin at her home in Laguna Beach. Kirsten provided her with the opportunity to deliver Californian Wildlife workshops to children and adults from Orange County. Following these pilot workshops Jane invited Californian children to create drawings for her Where Did All the Animals Go? 2021 exhibition at the Great North Museum: Hancock, (GNM) Newcastle upon Tyne. During Jane's visit, she spoke to Kirsten of her vision to bring her workshops to many more children and communities across the globe.
Having undertaken several humanitarian missions with the US military to provide dental care to underserved communities across the globe, UK dentist Kirsten had formed a friendship with Mayor Waneka Arrindell of Linden, Guyana. Kirsten contacted the Mayor to invite her to join the WDATAG? Project and found the Guyana Team, part of the project's Outreach Program. Mayor Waneka subsequently invited Dr. Raquel Thomas, Director of the Iwokrama International Centre, and her colleagues to join the team. Over 100 children and adults participated in Jane's 2021 exhibition workshops including children from the indigenous village of Fairview in the heart of the Iwokrama rainforest and Hauraruni Girls Orphanage. Biologist and artist, Arianne Harris became WDATAG? first Art Ambassador.
After Jane installed the 2021 exhibition at GNM, she founded Drawing for the Planet global art and education charity assisted by Kirsten, her husband John Rogers, Amy Turner and Kristin Hunziker, and Jane's husband Rob, to help Jane bring her projects to more children and communities and continue raising funds for wildlife.