Animals on the Beach

Every time I read of yet another animal species headed for extinction I want to scream and tear my hair out. Please let us not preside over the greatest extinction event in history. I don’t want to be alone on the earth, with the only animals left our stuffed toys. Biodiversity matters!

While out skating around Stanley Park last weekend, I noticed that a striking structure of driftwood, branches and leaves had been erected on Third Beach. Friday, since the day was warm and dry, I decided to enact a small intervention into it with my stuffed animal biodiversity/species loss project. During the afternoon I hung up in the structure twenty-four stuffed animals, the animals representing species threatened or destined for extinction, as well as ones crafted in human imagination, and the number twenty four, the hours in a day, standing for the time span of human history.

Around the bottom of it I wove seven coloured crepe paper ribbons, each colour of the rainbow representing the days of the week. Together these suggest the time we have left to get it right, stop destroying animal habitats, change our habits and find a transformed relationship with the natural world of which we’re all a part.

While I was working on this piece, several people stopped by to chat; these included Joan, a Vancouverite now living in Switzerland back for a 50th high school reunion, her friend Lori, and an unnamed Iranian expatriate. Joan mentioned Gauthier Chapelle as a person to check out, with his ideas of “Le Vivante”, the living. After having finished their walk, the two women returned with two colourful balloons for the interior of the piece. The Iranian fellow told me that the structure reminded him of the tents in which he used to sleep as a child (and said that the two snakes I’d included bothered him, since he had to be vigilant against them as a child in the Iranian countryside). But snakes, too, have their place in the balance of nature.

Later, at sunset, Ty and I returned with small LED lights and the juvenile mannequin, a symbol of the human, and installed these in the wooden frame as well. As the sun slipped down on the horizon,  the lights on the ships waiting to be unloaded came on and the moon came out, people rode by on their bikes, others gathered for a beach bonfire, and we all enjoyed the colours of the piece glowing against the darkness.

Read more about biodiversity here.

Read information about Gauthier Chapelle here.

See more pictures here.