City artist proves the '˜mane' draw for zoo arts trail

A talented artist from Portsmouth has swapped her easel and canvas for a zebra sculpture as she joins the mass art extravaganza Marwell's Zany Zebras.

Thursday, 26th May 2016, 6:01 am
Claire Nicholls' zebra design

Last year Clare Nicholls, who works for Smock & Ballpoint, submitted a zebra design, which was selected from hundreds of others to be brought to life for a giant art trail.

The finished work of art will be on show in Southampton for 10 weeks this summer, when the city becomes home to a herd of colourful zebra sculptures.

In addition, a trail of replica miniature Marwell’s Zany Zebras will be hidden within Marwell Zoo.

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Working from her home in Eastney, Clare has created a zebra with the working title of ‘Zebraversity’.

It is covered in a ‘coat’ of animals (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects), all of which are endangered species in Britain.

The zebra sculpture’s face is patterned using insect species which are threatened in the UK. The neck is decorated with UK birds and butterflies which are also under threat.

Clare said: ‘I was keen to be involved in a public art initiative that would allow me to use art to communicate a conservation message, while also supporting Marwell Wildlife’s conservation projects.

‘The Marwell’s Zany Zebra “Zebraversity” explores the theme of British endangered species.

‘I was keen to link the international conservation work of Marwell Wildlife with local concerns.

‘The animals are partially erased, to form stripes reminiscent of those of the Grevy’s zebra.

‘This plays on the theme of erasing the species depicted, and on the idea of packaging; the stripes appear as strips like torn paper, relating to the zebra’s name, “Zebraversity”.

‘I’m really excited that this work will be exhibited publicly as part of the Marwell’s Zany Zebras trail this summer, supporting the charity’s conservation work, and raising awareness of conservation issues in the UK.’

Sponsored by the University of Southampton, which runs the MRes Wildlife Conservation in conjunction with Marwell Wildlife, Clare’s design is intended to create a link between the threatened nature of the Grevy’s zebra and our native species.

She has previously produced artwork for children’s public spaces, and is excited by the opportunity to create public art for a broader audience.

Kirstie Mathieson, project manager for Marwell’s Zany Zebras, said: ‘We are delighted that Clare has joined the stampede.

‘The public art extravaganza brings together the whole community to create a very special summer that showcases the talents of artists from the wider south coast area, all while raising vital funds for the Grevy’s zebra and other endangered species.’