24 November 2016 Remembrance for Lost Species, London, Sunday, 27 November 2016 Blog

Remembrance for Lost Species – Sunday, 27 November 2016

Sometimes I get involved in provocative, evocative, mischievous and random activities that gently disrupt, hopefully expand, and always have the potential to implode.

This week it’s ‘Remembrance for Lost Species’ Sunday, 27th November at the dinosaur garden in Crystal Palace Park.

I was stricken recently reading an article in The Independent stating that the world is facing its first mass extinction since dinosaurs, and that wildlife populations have plunged by 67 percent in 50 years.

THIS REALLY, really, bothers me.  It’s always bothered me.  And it should.  Frankly it should bother us all. But often it doesn’t.  At least not enough or enough of us, enough of the time. Living detached from that reality, far away, in cities, in houses in suburbs, small villages and towns with tidy gardens and parks, surrounded by small tracts of forest and farmed land. In places we never see extinction , much less the cause.

Orangutan filled forests destroyed for palm oil, pretty much found in any cosmetic, detergent, shampoo, soap, chocolate, margarine, ice cream and biscuit product.  So eager are some countries to deliver this demand that they’re willing to sacrifice their forests, creatures, futures.

It’s not that this type of activity is new and hasn’t already occurred in our own, and so many other countries, for so many of the same and other reasons.  It’s that it just continues and continues.  Countries blighted by man-made poverty, yet to gorge on the excess of consumption, racing to catch up economically, at their own peril and more poignantly that of the species dwelling within. Often ‘we’ in the UK, US, Australia, Europe own or drive those plantations.  It’s an ugly cycle.

Sometimes I feel the horror of the machine, that endlessly turning wheel of growth, industry, economy, progress, consumption dispassionately crushing everything of true value and beauty underneath. No-one at the helm, no way to stop it.

I DO NOT want to live in a world where elephants no longer roam. Yet it’s a real possibility. One that brings deep dread to think about.  These beautiful, intelligent creatures, with their majesty and matriarchy, sentient, gentle yet fierce, that will visit a departed loved one to hum, low guttural, murmurs over the decaying carcass. That return to the home of a man, who gave them refuge, upon his passing. And pass down memories of grazing pastures and migration routes, through generations.  No. I don’t want that. What is the point of this world without that?

So in the year of the 80th Anniversary of the disappearance of the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), and in a week where Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day compete, I agreed to create an event with my very good mate Daniela. We call it ‘Remembrance for Lost Species’.  To be confused with and as part of:  ‘Remembrance Day for Lost Species’ 30th November 2016.  Drawing upon a previous installation Lost/Missing  by Daniela and husband Vincent Oyenga for the E17 Arts Trail, we decided to hold a remembrance down by the dinosaurs at the lower end of Crystal Palace park, London, creating flyers with images of the paintings (below) by Vince. Speaking with passersby about extinction, their views, sharing information about current extinction rates, causes and possible actions to mitigate it.  And finally taking a moment to read out a list of 125 extinct species.

As another mate Joe Duggan said:  “Makes me think of Phillip K Dick who wrote Blade Runner or “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep”. In the novel there is loads about robotic pets, where people all pretend they are real. But no one can afford real pets anymore because they are so rare “


Often I feel powerless to do anything about it. I try to think about what I can do to change that. Then I put my energy where I can.  We all can.

Lost and Missing Species

(Click on images to enlarge)







Artwork by: www.vincentoyenga.com


Note:  Throughout the month of November, each year, anyone can create an event or activity and inform www.lostspeciesday.org/ to add to their calendar, culminating on 30th November.

Our event was borne out of the mischief and machinations of Mearcstapa and the Gipsy Hill Arts Collective.

Follow:  @lostspeciesday  @lostspeciesday @extinctionsymbol