Nicky Leigh                                        


Animals in Captivity 2000 - 2003

Artist Statement for proposed Exhibition 2003

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It is my belief that the consumer age in which we live has separated itself from nature and consequently sees no purpose in respecting or conserving wildlife. The environment and our animals are taken for granted by some and seen as a commodity to be exploited for mans own ends. To me traditional zoos are in some ways a part of that exploitation. However during the course of my work I became aware of the complexity of the subject. I realize that zoos provide a number of benefits and it is therefore not a simple matter of closing them down without realistic alternatives. There are many factors to consider for which there are no easy answers. Alternatives depend largely on financial resources and the commitment and co-operation of the people involved.

My primary intention with this exhibition is to present my heartfelt response to the subject without resorting to sentimentality. I realize that, unfortunately, the plight of animals is overshadowed by more pressing social issues such as Aids, War, Overpopulation, Poverty and many more. I feel that unfortunately many of these issues will always be with us. Our animals may not - they are a unique and special gift not to be taken for granted.

I hope to raise awareness and inspire the viewer to question issues such as:

  • The treatment of animals in captivity and the conditions in which they live.
  • The violation of animal rights to freedom, privacy and respect as well as the right to live in their natural environment.
  • The overpopulation and greed of humanity and the resulting violation and pollution of the environment of these animals.
  • Commodification of animals.

And on another level:

  • The animals in captivity as a metaphor for the human spirit encaged.
  • Why we are afraid to live outside our cages.
  • The fragmentation of our identities.
  • The Christian theme of liberation from bondage and the hope of redemption.
  • Our need for restoration as individuals and a society.

I believe that the works are direct and challenging, but not necessarily pleasant. My work will appeal to those who can appreciate a sincere response to the subject. I am interested in experimenting in different mediums and challenging my style while remaining authentic in my interpretation.

The work submitted for the proposal is by no means the complete body of work. I intend to do more paintings, prints, drawings and other media. My research includes photographs, slides, videos, and my own written observations and expressions.

As an artist I feel that it is my duty to be true to what my eye sees and my heart feels.

I would like to share my insights and inspire those who view my exhibition. My intention is not to be judgemental nor to provide answers but merely to present my interpretation of the subject as effectively as possible and inspire the viewer to question. Unfortunately people are often just too overwhelmed with their own struggles to view life with the compassion, love or the concern that it deserves. Human life to those who are damaged seems of little value let alone the life of our animals. To me this is incredibly sad and significant as I realise that there is no hope in restoration for a world with people who neither value or respect their own or the lives of others.

Even so, those of us who are able to listen and see must do so.

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