Endangered Species Day on May 19th is set to coincide with the grand opening of the immersive interactive wildlife experience titled “Love The Last March” by internationally renowned artists Gillie and Marc in Singapore.
This monumental sculpture showcase aims to raise awareness about wildlife conservation and the urgent need to protect endangered species.
British and Australian artists, Gillie and Marc have been called “the most successful and prolific creators of public art in New York’s History” by the New York Times. Creating some of the world’s most innovative public sculptures, Gillie and Marc are redefining what public art should be, spreading messages of love, equality, and conservation around the world.
In an exclusive interview, Gillie and Marc shed light on the inspiration behind the exhibition, the power of art in conveying important messages, and their vision for engaging with the local audience.
TVM: Gillie and Marc, congratulations on your biggest and longest sculpture showcase titled “Love The Last March” here in Singapore! Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this exhibition and why you chose Singapore as its location?
Gillie and Marc: Like most nature lovers, David Attenborough has been a constant source of inspiration for us but his recent witness statement called ‘A Life On Our Planet’ really hit home. Over his immense career, David Attenborough has watched the wild world transform. Humans have modified the planet at such a rapid rate that we are on the brink of environmental collapse.
According to a 2018 report, humans make up just 0.01% of the world’s inhabitants but have caused the loss of 83% of wild animals and 50% of all plants. What’s more, the planet’s animals are greatly skewed towards livestock for consumption. 70% of all birds on Earth are farmed for poultry. It gets even scarier when we look at mammals. 60% are livestock, and 36% are humans, leaving just 4% as wild animals. That’s crazy!
His call to action is one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops. This is the idea of rewilding. We must bring back the diverse ecosystems which are crucial for the survival of all species. We must learn to live with nature, rather than separate ourselves. This message is what we want to share with the world through Love The Last March, the biggest protest march led by animals.
We chose Singapore for many reasons. First of all, it’s gorgeous! There is so much greenery everywhere with living walls, gorgeous parks, and the most unbelievable rainforest there for all creatures to enjoy. With their push towards living within nature, Singapore was the perfect backdrop to prove that rewilding can work.
TVM: Your sculptures are renowned for bringing awareness to wildlife conservation. Could you share with us how art plays a role in raising awareness about endangered species and the environment?
Gillie and Marc: Public art is so much more than a way to liven up a space. It is a powerful agent for change. It’s a wonderful tool to bring important messages to everyday people, helping them to see and become aware of the problem in a way that’s easier to digest.
We think public art is the perfect tool to spread the word about conservation. It brings the wild out of the distant lands and into the urban jungle, places where many people would never have had the opportunity to see a real rhino or elephant. We then make the sculptures interactive, encouraging people to get up close, touch, and look into the eyes of wildlife. Through this, they can begin to build a connection. Only then will they begin to care enough to take action.
Once again, David Attenborough has been an inspiration for us. He has an incredible quote which perfectly encapsulates what we are trying to do with our wildlife sculptures; “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”
TVM: “Love The Last March” coincides with Endangered Species Day. What significance does this day hold for you as artists, and how does it tie into the message you hope to convey through your sculptures?
Gillie and Marc: Love The Last March features some of the most endangered species in the world. And this is only a tiny fraction of the reality. We wanted to coincide with the launch to celebrate endangered species and bring awareness to the sheer number and what that means. For the public, the concept of endangered animals sounds bad. But it’s not until they can actually start to see what this means will they fully be able to process it. We hope that this Endangered Species Day, hundreds more will begin to understand the extinction crisis we are in and decide to take action.
TVM: Your monumental public sculptures can be found in major cities worldwide, from New York City to Australia. How do you adapt your artworks to resonate with diverse cultural contexts, and what challenges do you face in creating large-scale sculptures for different urban environments?
Gillie and Marc: We want to make sure that the sculptures we produce have the biggest emotional effect on the public. This means that the animals we choose are usually specifically catered to the location we exhibit. King Nyani, a giant gorilla, was launched in New York, tying their historic connection to giant gorillas thanks to King Kong and creating a new relationship of love. In the UK we launched an exhibition for lions, their national emblem. We also launched Chimps Are Family in London, celebrating the incredible achievements of local primatologist Jane Goodall and inspiring others to fall in love with them as she did.
Logistics is always the most difficult part of creating these large-scale sculptures, especially when you have to navigate narrow, busy city streets. It’s always worth it. Seeing people’s faces when a giant wild animal appears on their commute is priceless.
TVM: The title of your exhibition, “Love The Last March,” is intriguing. Could you elaborate on the meaning behind it and how it relates to the themes explored in your artwork?
Gillie and Marc: We’ve been creating conservation sculptures for many years now. All of them fit under this Love The Last banner. Love The Last is a social movement driven by public art to raise awareness, funds and support for some of the world’s most endangered species. The idea is to create sculptures all around the world that tell the stories of these endangered species to drive positive change and ensure these animals don’t leave us forever.
The concept of the March came from protest marches. We love the ability to peacefully affect change by standing in solidarity. This is the protest march of the animals, asking us to walk with them in solidarity and stand up for their right to live and be safe in their homes.
TVM: Your sculptures often depict animals in various emotional states. How do you capture the essence of these creatures and their connection to human emotions in your artwork?
Gillie and Marc: Creating emotion is incredibly important. It’s the key ingredient to making sure people form a connection and fall in love. All of our sculptures are based on hundreds of photographs and sketches we’ve created of wildlife over the years. We’ve spent hundreds of hours studying and observing various species’ behaviour so we can get their mannerisms and individual quirks just right.
Without this, people wouldn’t be able to connect as much. The emotion transforms the bronze into an animal with a unique personality, an individual.
TVM: Singapore is known for its vibrant art scene. How do you envision your sculptures engaging with the local audience and contributing to the city’s artistic landscape?
Gillie and Marc: Singapore is full of talented artists and artworks, and we feel honoured to now be included amongst them. We hope that as locals explore their gorgeous Gardens By The Bay, they will see the animals as a sign of the success their tiny city-state has achieved when it comes to rewilding. We hope the children see them as a source of joy, playing, touching, and learning about all the different animals. And we hope that they become inspired to continue to care for their home, welcoming wildlife as part of their locals.
TVM: As internationally renowned artists, you have a strong following and have made a significant impact on the art world. What message or lasting impression do you hope to leave with visitors who experience “Love The Last March” in Singapore?
Gillie and Marc: This world does not belong to us. We share it with thousands of beautiful and exciting species. And this is not just a wonderful thing to experience, it’s also crucial to our own survival. We are at a tipping point. We must all rise up and help to turn the world back to nature. It is possible, but only if we work together. Will you march for wildlife?