Frome Times | February 11, 2020
Frome-based textile artist Gladys Paulus has started the year by launching a new art project.
Faces of Extinction is an international community art project and on-line exhibition that aims to draw attention to the impact of human activity on eco systems and habitats, and the increased rate of species loss that is one of the results.
Gladys is inviting artists, makers and creative folk to become involved by making a mask of an animal species threatened with extinction, and to submit a photo of themselves wearing the mask and bearing a sign.
Faces of Extinction occupies a dedicated Instagram and Facebook page. In order to maximise the visual impact of this art campaign, everyone will work and produce images to the same spec, so participants are asked to follow the guidelines closely. The style of photograph that they are asked to submit are reminiscent of old police mug shots.
Gladys says, “What I want to portray with these images is the notion that these animals are facing being sentenced, and by default, we are too. Time will tell how our actions now will be judged by our children’s children.”
Gladys, a former member of OWL on Catherine Hill, is known in the town for her hand felted animal masks and for her moving exhibition ‘Hinterland’, which was shown in Black Swan Arts in 2017 and remains one of the most visited exhibitions in the gallery’s history.
Her animal masks have featured in books, theatre, film, television, music videos, album covers, advertising campaigns and fashion magazines such as Vogue, and her specialist mask-making master classes are high demand. But she feels the time has come to use her masks for a different purpose.
“I know many people share my concern, horror and grief at the alarming increase in extinction rates that are happening as a result of human actions, as well as the enormous environmental challenges we are facing. With this project I am offering a creative platform to anyone who feels moved to express this concern, at the same time as providing a means to collectively raise our voices”.
“This is a long term project, and the work will be uploaded as and when participants complete their mask and submit their images. To boost participant numbers I will be running a series of specialist master classes for my students this year. I have been sharing this project with them over the past six months, and some are already working on masks as I speak. However, this project is open to creative folk working in all mediums and you don’t have to be a professional artist to take part. You have creative licence to portrait and interpret the animal’s uniqueness in any way you see fit. The only restrictions are that the animal needs to be recognisable (though not necessarily realistic) and the mask needs to cover your head completely. So whatever your medium, be it textiles, ceramics, paper maché, metal, pen or paint on paper; join in!”
The model in the Javan rhino mask in the launch photos is Frome man Toby Nowlan, a wildlife expert and assistant producer on wildlife documentaries such as the BBC’s Planet Earth II and Netflix’s Dancing with the Birds, who is currently in Java in an effort to track and capture film footage of this rare and illusive animal. Photography is by Frome photographer Mark Brookes.
For more information/or to contribute to Faces of Extinction, please visit or www. instagram.com/facesofextinction/ or www.facebook .com/pg/Faces-of-Extinction-105666694326676
To support Toby’s expedition, visit www.gofundme. com/f/last-of-the-javan-rhino