From having his work auctioned in aid of the Leonard DiCaprio Foundation last year to a growing number of international exhibitions, a Grahamstown sculptor continues to play his part in wildlife conservation with his latest exhibition running in London until tomorrow.
With more than two decades’ experience in game drives and guiding in the African bushveld, Bruce Little has maintained his passion for the planet’s flora and fauna.
“I have an extremely strong conservation ethos and would like to make a significant change and an awareness for the plight of our planet and the animals that call it home.
“This is the legacy I would like to leave,” he said.
Little’s exhibition opened on Tuesday at the Mall Galleries in Central London where it has been receiving a great response from the public.
The artist has been exhibiting in London since 2003, and this is his second exhibition at the Mall Galleries.
His previous exhibitions were at The Gallery in Cork Street.
“I am prouder of this particular exhibition than I have ever been, and the response has been fantastic – this has been reflected in the sales that we made on opening night,” Little said.
Through this exhibition, Little shares Africa with the world through 60 sculptures ranging from a small field mouse to a monumental 4.5m leopard.
These are handmade using clay-shaping tools and drawing inspiration from his photographs of wildlife.
“I explore the enigma of my subjects by revealing the musculature of the animal while capturing their power, agility and spirit – choosing to define an impression of the animal’s character rather than an exact anatomical replica of it,” he said of his work.
All of Little’s creations are deeply rooted in his passion for nature preservation. Incredibly he has had no formal education in sculpting.
Last year, the artist sculpted an 8m-long x 4.3m-high bronze lion, Dawn Patrol, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of England’s Longleat Safari Park. This gained him a great deal of publicity, resulting in him being approached to present the sculpture for auction at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s St Tropez gala fundraiser in France.
It was auctioned for $1-million (R14.2-million) with all proceeds going towards the foundation.
“It was an absolute privilege to have raised that amount of money [and] to know that something I have done has contributed to wildlife efforts and the environment,” he said.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s values are centred on supporting the conservation of all Earth’s inhabitants.
Reminiscing about his first-ever international exhibition at London’s The Gallery, Little said: “I remember sitting across the road from the gallery, looking at the display windows on the opening evening with a great sense of pride.
“At that time in my artistic career, it was always something I had envisaged, and to have realised that dream of showing in London was incredible.”
Little said the current exhibition was his biggest to date.
He will return to South Africa towards the end of this month to continue working on his newly opened gallery in Stellenbosch and developing his new collection.