As we commence our centenary, we are delighted to announce our first special project of the year−our sponsorship of
The Last Two, a powerful new sculpture by artists and conservationists, Gillie & Marc.
We are proud to support this important campaign which raises awareness of the plight of rhinos and other wild animals
on the brink of extinction. The Last Two will be unveiled at St Kilda Beach, Melbourne on Saturday 2 February. We spoke
to artists Gillie & Marc about the project.
1. Gillie & Marc, can you tell us about your sculpture, The Last Two and the inspiration behind it?
Gillie: In March 2018 we installed The Last Three, a sculpture featuring the last three remaining Northern White Rhinos, Sudan, Najin and Fatu, in New York City. The sculpture inspired a massive global audience, fueling hundreds of articles by world leading press and art critics, tens of thousands of dedicated hashtags and millions of impressions that spread critical awareness about rhino conservation.
Sadly, just a few days after the installation of The Last Three, Sudan died, shattering hearts all over the world. In response, we have created another powerful sculpture to honour Sudan’s legacy and the family he left behind.
Sudan, the last male Northern White Rhino, left behind his daughter and granddaughter named Najin and Fatu. Now, the mother and daughter are the final two Northern White Rhinos on the planet, sadly facing imminent extinction. We were determined to create a legacy of their plight to save other species from the same tragic fate.
The Wonderful Two will continue our campaign to push for the eradication of rhino poaching! Najin and Fatu are sculpted in bronze, featuring golden patina horns. Rhinos are murdered at horrific rates for their horns, which are worth more than their weight in gold. We are seeking to further educate the global audience about rhino conservation through this unique design element.
Marc: The sculpture will depict Najin and Fatu connected in the middle, with their heads facing opposite directions. Both rhinos are trying to pull each other to safety, while constricted by the reality their situation has thrust upon them. It seems their fate is stuck in place and time with only two left on Earth, and no simple path to freedom. Through the sculpture, audiences will understand that, while Najin and Fatu have stuck together in their fight to survive, they are intertwined by the plight of all Northern White rhinos and will therefore remain in this place forever.
The artwork’s design is inspired by the ‘pushmi-pullyu’ (pronounced push me-pull you) from the classic Dr. Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting. The pushmi-pullyu is a creature that has a head of both a unicorn and gazelle, one on either side of its body.
Their story is a powerful one, which will continue to inspire a community to action worldwide. This will ignite real lasting chance for rhino conservation, so that no other species will fall to extinction as we’ve tragically watched happen to the Northern White Rhinos.
2. When was it you launched The Last Three, and what was the response to it in New York?
Marc: The Last Three was launched to much success in Astor Place, New York in March 2018. It was a life-changing project for us, and it had a much tighter timeline than our other monumental sculpture projects because we were determined to finish it before Sudan died and he was deteriorating more and more every day. Being able to finish it while he was still with us was something I’ll never forget.
Unveiling it in New York, a city we love and in such a prominent position, to a crowd of people who knew about the Northern White rhinos or wanted to learn more was just amazing.
Gillie: The reaction from the public was fantastic, and for me that’s the best part. People were incredibly eager to connect, learn, help, and to share the work with their friends and on social media.
We are animal lovers and are so grateful we can use our platform and our art for the good of these endangered species.
3. What made you decide on the location at St Kilda Beach as a resting place for The Last Two?
Marc: I was born in Melbourne and used to live in St Kilda, so I’ve always understood the people here to be extremely passionate about protecting the natural world. Growing up, the influence of this incredible city helped spark my own passion for conservation, so Gillie and I knew there would be no better place to install The Wonderful Two. Now, the people of Melbourne can champion the endeavour to save rhinos, by setting an example for the world and spreading Najin and Fatu’s story as they’ve already begun to do!
Gillie: The beach here at St Kilda is a place for appreciating the beauty of our surroundings, and how fortunate we are to live on this planet. By installing The Wonderful Two in this location, it reminds us of how precious life is and how important it is to take care of the earth and its creatures. Melbourne is a truly an amazing place -and now even more so for taking such admirable strides with this ground-breaking sculpture.
4. What has been the response to the project, and what do you hope the sculpture will achieve in terms of funds raised and awareness?
Gillie: We have been so amazed and overwhelmed by the response from people already! The outpouring of donations and support is so inspiring and humbling, and it reminds us of why we do this.
Marc: The Wonderful Two sits within our larger mission to raise not just awareness around conservation, but also get people to want to activate and enact change. We hope to provide people with a chance to learn and interact with animals through our work, no matter where they live, and also inspire generations to join the battle for rhino conservation. The idea is to connect to people, and one by one help forge a special bond and deeper understanding that may not have existed before.
5. What is your opinion on Leonard Joel’s voluntary policy and campaign to cease trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn?
Marc: We think it’s fantastic! We are so continually inspired by wildlife, as many others are and we believe it is paramount that we protect it. Its great that Leonard Joel feels the same and is taking the lead and we hope that the changes they are making in ceasing ivory and rhino horn trade continues to influence others.
Gillie: We’re so proud to be partnering with Leonard Joel, especially in the face of their current conservation efforts and it’s so exciting and heartening to see the art world getting behind such an important cause.
6. What’s next for Gillie & Marc?
Marc: We have so many more exciting projects on the horizon! We will be unveiling our latest project Statues for Equality later this year in New York, which aims to balance gender representation in public art, and honour women’s contributions to society. With so few statues in New York City depicting real women, the disparity in public art illustrates how serious this issue really is. In response to this, we have teamed up with some of the world’s most powerful women to take a stand for equal rights through Statues for Equality. We will be officially launching this on Women’s Equality Day, on August 26th, 2019.
Gillie: Also on the agenda this year is Love The Last, our global art and conservation movement where we want to raise awareness for twelve of the world’s most endangered species, some of which we’ve been lucky enough to spend time with and others that we are yet to meet!
The mission of #LoveTheLast is to share the experience of being close to earth’s animals in need, so that even people disconnected by urban environments can learn to love them.
Only people can make a difference. If the whole world doesn’t get on board now to make strides in conservation, then all animals will fall to the same fate as Najin and Fatu’s species. It’s now or never.
We want 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 Last Two will be officially unveiled at 11am on Saturday 2 February at St Kilda Sea Baths. John Albrecht, Managing Director of Leonard Joel will speak at the event and we invite you to join us in support of this important cause.