“I think artists can make images that instantly resonate. The visual arts can put the message across very simply and strongly.” - Peter Blake
Pandamonium is a series of fundraising art initiatives that we devised and curated for WWF-UK where art simultaneously articulated the environmental challenges we face, engaged new audiences to the charity and changed perceptions around environmental communication.
For the first edition of Pandamonium in 2009, we invited 16 acclaimed British artists and designers to create innovative and memorable artworks out of WWF's decommissioned but iconic Panda collection boxes.
The use of an underlying theme is common when curating exhibitions but it’s rare to present the invited artists the task of working with a common object. The artists chose the size and number of Panda Boxes they wanted and, from there, the brief was open: they were encouraged to take the object (the panda) and manipulate or use it in any way – even destroying it – in order to create awareness of the destruction and havoc we are causing to our planet and the effect it is having on climate change.
As diverse as the resulting works are, a thread that unites the majority of them seems to be the desire to preserve and protect – from Jim Lambie’s sculpture where the panda is fossilised in concrete to Tracey Emin’s monoprint and accompanying photograph, showing the panda hiding under a handkerchief as though playing a game of hide-and-seek from all the dangers that threaten. Others such as Mark Titchner and Adam King use the panda as part of an installation that make bold political statements about our planet. Troika, and Jason Bruges Studio use technology to animate their installations in such a way as to make the pandas the active viewer and us the spectacle, thus questioning the relationship that man traditionally has with nature. Gary Hume and Laura Ford show us the positive side with nature being the winner whereas Jane Simpson and Tom Dixon have tried to preserve their pandas, albeit perhaps as a long distant memory either through freezing or creating an alchemist’s spell and United Visual Artist’s heroic attempts to preserve the panda has just led to it melting. By turning her two baby pandas white Rachel Whiteread has created ghostly remnants of the iconic species and Gavin Turk has simply removed the panda and left its base like a tombstone; spine chilling stuff. Humour is always a very strong vehicle to make one think and so Peter Blake’s miscommunication about the World Wrestling Federation, Paul Smith’s ultimate branded icon and the idea behind Nigel Coates table, supported by three pandas, at which we can sit, eat or drink – leave us even more food for thought.
These unique artworks were then shown in the windows of Selfridges, London during Frieze week 2009, before being auctioned off to raise over £100,000 for WWF.
|Peter Blake||Jason Bruges Studio||Nigel Coates|
|Tom Dixon||Tracey Emin||Laura Ford|
|Gary Hume||Adam King||Jim Lambie|
|Jane Simpson||Paul Smith||Mark Titchner|
|Troika||Gavin Turk||United Visual Artists|