I’ve finally completed a new piece. It’s a scratchboard that’s been a long time in the making with a busy life at the moment and a lot of detail in this. This should really be titled “Old Man of San Diego” because it’s from seeing one of the orangutans at San Diego Zoo in California when I was there last July. “Old Man of San Diego” just doesn’t have that ring to it since this is a male Bornean orangutan, the ones with the wide cheek flaps which show dominance to other males. In all the photographs I took of this awesome male, his eyes are not visible, too much in shadow, so I used some artistic licence to create a sad portrait. It’s one of those conundrums – we need to see primates like orangutans in zoos to highlight their plight in the wild, massive reduction in numbers due to hunting, the pet trade and loss of habitat through land exploitation, and one day maybe zoos will be the only place we will be able to see them, but of course we also don’t want to see them in zoos simply because they don’t belong there. It should also be noted that orangutans have particularly sad faces but that bears no relation to their mood. It is simply due to their facial muscles and as artists we tend to humanise animals too much, something I am guilty of but I do it for a reason – to make people stop and think.
12″ x 16″