The city of Dubbo is now home to three stunning Black Rhino sculptures created by artists Gillie and Marc Schattner.
The sculptures, unveiled today at three locations, further link Taronga Western Plains Zoo and the city it has called home for over 36 years, acknowledging a proud shared history.
“These sculptures have been a labour of love for artists Gillie and Marc, who last year offered to create a work of art for the Zoo in memory of the Rhinos that passed away here after a mystery illness in 2012,” Taronga Western Plains Zoo General Manager Matthew Fuller said.
“The Zoo extended this very generous opportunity to Dubbo City Council, and as a result today we’re unveiling three Black Rhino mother and calf sculptures at the Visitor Information Centre, the Dubbo Regional Airport and the front of the Zoo.”
Mr Fuller said the three installations, which include landscaping and signage, not only link Dubbo and the Zoo, they highlight the plight of Rhino species in the wild.
“Poaching is at unprecedented levels,” Mr Fuller said. “In Africa, Rhino populations are barely keeping pace, with some 2,000 Rhinos poached across the continent since 2006.*”
“These sculptures raise awareness of their plight and highlight the importance of conservation and breeding programs such as those located right here in Dubbo for Black Rhinos, White Rhinos and Greater One-horned Rhinos. Programs that the community has every right to be proud of.”
Mr Fuller said: “Artists Gillie and Marc have done an amazing job of capturing such an iconic species in a very lifelike and natural way and we’re very appreciative of their generous offer that has resulted in stunning works of art for the city.”
At the unveiling of the sculptures today, Mayor of Dubbo Councillor Mathew Dickerson thanked the Zoo for extending to Dubbo City Council the opportunity to partner in the project.
"Council has a great partnership with our city’s major attraction and the community has a great deal of pride in the Zoo. These sculptures reflect the community's pride in the Zoo and the research and conservation endeavours that take place right here in our city," Cr Dickerson said.
"It’s great to now have a physical presence of the Zoo in the city at two prominent visitor locations and I believe the sculptures in themselves may become iconic city attractions."
Sydney-based artists Gillie and Marc Schattner are international award winning artists and Archibald Prize finalists.
“We were so happy to do this (work),” they said. “Every animal (sculpture) is a memento to the Rhinos that were lost, a constant reminder of this endangered species and a message to protect threatened animals.”
The three sculpture installations each fit an area measuring 4m by 4m, with the Black Rhino mother measuring 1.4 m tall at the shoulder and 3m in length. The bronze installation at the Visitor Information Centre weighs over 1000kg.
The artists used images of the Zoo’s Black Rhino mother and calf Bakhita and Kufara as inspiration for the sculptures. They made a steel frame or armature to support the clay mould, which was then developed, refined and cast in bronze.
*International Rhino Foundation, February 2013.