Africa in art

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Visions of Africa, a new exhibition, brings together the photography of Levison Wood and the sculpture of Rosamond Lloyd. Lloyd is one of the UK’s leading wildlife sculptors. In 2014 she became the affiliated sculptor to Tusk, who fund conservation and community development projects in Africa. She will be displaying a collection of bronze sculptures – including elephant, rhino, buffalo and hippo – the sales of which will aid the work of Tusk. Lloyd talks to Rose Gamble about her work and inspiration

Ros-working-4.2What is it about sculpting wildlife that has caught your imagination?
Nature has been my constant distraction since childhood, and wildlife in all its diversity continues to provide an endless source of inspiration and challenge for me as a sculptor. I feel an empathy and connection with my subject matter, which helps me in my efforts to capture the spirit of the animal I am sculpting.

How did your involvement with Tusk come about?
I was introduced to Tusk three years ago by the owner of the Cotswold Wildlife Park, and a Tusk trustee, when he commissioned me to create a bronze to celebrate the birth of the park’s first white rhino in its 43-year history.

How do you think art – sculpture in particular – can aid conservation?
We automatically attach a value to art causing us to appreciate its content, whereas we have a tendency to take for granted the wildlife around us, on our doorstep and further afield. Wildlife art and, in particular, sculpture can reach a wide audience many of whom may not have the chance to see certain species in their natural habitat. Skilfully executed, it can be a vivid reminder both of the beauty yet fragility of the world around us. The nature of my pieces, the detail and the spirit of my subject matter that I try to reflect in my work, hopefully encourages a closer connection between the onlooker and the subject matter itself. I want my observer to feel a personal connection to the finished bronze in the same way I did during its creation.

How do you go about reproducing an animal in 3D? Do you work from photographs, or from animals?
Working from life is preferable, but because of the nature of my sculpture and the subjects I work with (predominantly African wildlife), close encounters aren’t always possible or practical! I tend to assemble a wide range of research material to complement my own visual experiences in the field. I use film, photography and sketches to help inform myself throughout the creation process, in order to help me to build a clear picture of my subject. I must understand how it behaves and ‘works’, physically, almost from the inside out, if I am to achieve a sense of realism.

Has producing these sculptures changed your feelings toward wildlife?
The increase in opportunity to observe a wider range of wildlife species has inevitably enhanced my appreciation of the sheer diversity in the animal kingdom. My involvement with conservation organisations and awareness of the difficult challenges facing us today means that I feel an enormous sense of responsibility towards wildlife beyond creating a beautiful piece of art. My work is a celebration of life in all its variety, and the idea that one day some of my bronzes may simply be memorials to an extinct species is a very sobering thought.

What are your favourite places in Africa?
I am particularly fond of Zambia: the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi areas. For an unspoilt wildlife experience away from it all, where you can observe animals uninterrupted and in the most beautiful surroundings, I would choose Chiawa Camp or Old Mondoro [www.chiawa.com] on the banks of the beautiful Zambezi River or any of the wonderful Robin Pope camps where guests can still experience a safari on foot.

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The ‘Visions of Africa’ exhibition will be held at La Galleria on Pall Mall, London, from 6 to 12 December. To read more, visit www.tusk.org/levison-wood-and-rosamond-lloyd-exhibition.

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