See the miniature herd – highlighting the perils of the invory trade – at Collect Open
On 4 December, to mark World Wildlife Conservation Day, Charlotte Mary Pack set herself the task of making 100 ceramic elephants in 24 hours, representing the number of elephant lives thought to be lost each day due to the ivory trade. The results will be shown at this year’s Collect Open.
Pack hopes the 100-strong herd will provoke renewed awareness of a situation that puts the long-term survival of the species in serious danger. ‘It is soon going to become illegal to trade ivory of any period within the UK,’ she says. ‘And Collect and the Saatchi Gallery seem good places to spread the word. There will be big collectors visiting – people who might own ivory – and makers who might be thinking about using it in their work.’
To make the whole project in a single day was no easy task – particularly not for a self-proclaimed perfectionist who has over the years honed her skills in recreating the finest of fauna details, from smooth furs and voluminous manes, to reptilian scales and wrinkly hides. To add to the pressure, she set up a live streaming camera in her studio, so followers could watch her make the work (complete with cameos from her dog) as a clock counted down the minutes.
The work Pack creates in her East Sussex studio draws extensively on her upbringing on a farm and her travels in Africa. Her passion for wildlife welfare is embedded in every piece, including bright monochrome pots with animal lids, and often includes animals on the Red List of endangered species drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. ‘I steer my work to explore different ways to draw attention to the declining wildlife and natural world,’ she says. ‘And I want to create a vocabulary of emotions that represent each animal I make.’
Pack’s immediate priority for Collect Open is how to get every clay elephant to Chelsea in one piece. Then she needs to determine how they will be arranged in the space, with elephants increasing in size from five to 500 grams. ‘There will be tiny-weeny ones to quite big ones, which is unusual for me,’ says Pack, who is more accustomed to working exclusively at a small scale. ‘I either want to display them in a circular formation, where the smallest is in the middle and they spiral out, or like a herd, led by the biggest.’ Whichever way, Pack’s conservationist agenda will surely prevail.