Tessa Campbell Fraser exhibits sculptures at Whipsnade
Tuesday 9 November 2004
The Zoological Society of London is delighted to welcome the work of Tessa Campbell Fraser to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. This Internationally renowned sculptress has spent a great deal of time studying our animals so we are delighted to play host to the finished pieces. Until February 2005, three of her life-size animal sculptures are on display in the Park for visitors to enjoy
Tessa Campbell Fraser is one of the UK's leading figurative sculptors and has established herself as one of the country's foremost equestrian and landscape artists. Her interest in animals and anatomy led her to focus on sculpting and The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the charity that operates London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park is over the moon to be hosting an outdoor exhibition of her fantastic works.
Tessa was eager to display her work in another environment that acted as a vital source of guidance and inspiration to her. Tessa studies animals in the wild, in captivity and through museum collections. She spent time observing our hippos, Ben, Nigna, and Lola before creating her three piece bronze work which we have mounted in the lake near the Park's cafe.
"I am delighted to be exhibiting my sculptures at Whipsnade and to see them in such an open environment, surrounded by so many animals." Tessa commented.
The three large-scale bronzes on show at Whipsnade consist of a group of life-size hippos in water, realistically wallowing by Café on the Lake, a life-size red deer stag nearby, and a relatively new piece of work; 'Polar Dance' featuring a human figure on a polar bear, representing a departure from Tessa's purely figurative work.
As well as examining animals in collections such as Whipsnade, Tessa always studies her subjects in their natural environments. She has travelled all over the world to do this, most recently visiting Greenland to observe polar bears, where she completed a series of paintings to complement 'Polar Dance'.
'Polar Dance' (2003) featuring a huge polar bear with a human figure perched on its back is all about balance, the environment, and man's relationship with animals living in the wild. In a more modern sense, it relates to the impact of tourism on the natural world, a pertinent subject for ZSL as a leading conservation organisation.
'Red Highland Stag' (2001) is a life-size replica of Britain's largest native land mammal. These deer have survived enormous change, as most of their preferred woodland habitat has now disappeared, forcing them onto exposed moorland. Man is now their only predator in the UK. Display of this work at Whipsnade is especially important to ZSL as it symbolises our commitment to work with Britain's native species.
The third piece of Tessa's work on show in the park is 'Hippos' (2003) a life-size bronze group of common hippos, wallowing in the water near our Café on the Lake. Tessa visited our hippos while researching this sculpture and completed her study on wild animals in Africa. This incredibly realistic piece is made up of one female over whom two males are threatening to fight. Two gigantic mouths, full of huge tusks, face each other on the right while the female in question, submerged in the water, wallows seemingly unaware on the left.
Catherine Halcrow, ZSL's Head of Interpretation said "Tessa Campbell Fraser and ZSL share a strong commitment to wildlife conservation and we are delighted to exhibit these strong works as they are just so relevant to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park."
Tessa Campbell Fraser lives in Oxfordshire, where she designed and built her own studio, with husband comedian Rory Bremner and their two daughters. After studying at Chelsea School of Art, she spent the first five years of her career working as a muralist in London and abroad, undertaking private and commercial commissions. Tessa established herself through the late 80s and 90s as one of the country's leading equestrian and landscape artists. Her paintings and bronzes are held in private collections internationally, including those of Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Fahn bin Salman.
Notes to editors
Tessa Campbell Fraser was born in Edinburgh in 1967, and spent her childhood in the Scottish Borders. She has won many awards and exhibited work at the Royal Academy Summer show, the Royal Institute of Oil, Watercolour and Pastel Painters, and solos shows at the Tryon & Swann Gallery, Cork Street. Tessa was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1994.
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries world-wide.
Contact: Polly Wills on 0207 4496241
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