Art to conserve

Richard Dawkins on how actress Lalla Ward's art is being used to help conserve endangered species -

The Gerald Durrell Foundation, a charitable foundation set up to conserve endangered species all over the world, is currently running a campaign to save various endangered species on Galapagos.

The flagship species of this campaign is the Floreana Mockingbird - which, even before the famous Darwin's Finches, first caused the penny to drop in the great man's mind.

Having been bowled over by Lalla's pictures of other animals, the Durrell people asked her whether she would consider working on a new project: a collection of fabric pictures and ceramic paintings of Galapagos animals, which would would be exhibited in a London gallery and sold, with all proceeds going to the Galapagos fund.

Lalla agreed, and for months now she has been getting up at 4.30 am every morning and working all day at making new pictures. Finally her collection is finished, and her exhibition of 41 framed Fabric Pictures and 20 Ceramic Paintings is running all this week at the Chris Beetles Gallery, 8-10 Ryder Street, London (exhibition opened by Sir David Attenborough).

The pictures are being sold by "Scotch Auction" (i.e. silent auction, in which bids are placed secretly in writing: nobody knows what anybody else has bid). Rather late in the day, I realised that there might be many people who couldn't get to London for the exhibition but who might, nevertheless, want to bid.

So I suggested opening up the bidding on the web. Unfortunately, you can't see the original pictures in all their glory, but the website gives a link to postcard-sized photographs (some obviously are on their side).

At my website you can see my introduction to the Catalogue of the Exhibition, beginning with WB Yeats and the 'Islands of the Blest', going on to say something about the importance of Galapagos for evolutionary ideas, and ending with some remarks about Lalla herself and her art.

The web page also includes a place to click to see the postcard sized photographs.

Given the nature of a Silent Auction, there obviously has to be a cut-off time, scrupulously adhered to, after which the bids are declared.

Unfortunately it is VERY soon: 5.30 pm GMT on Saturday 28th March.

Here are the two places to bid: here for fabric pictures and here for ceramics