14 October 2015

Back in August, you may remember we asked for all budding artists to help us with a sculpture our artist in residence was creating to help us raise awareness of the impact palm oil is having on wildlife. This is just a part of our Palm Oil Challenge campaign.

Angela Sidwell creating orangutan sculpture at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo staff with visitors creating orangutan sculptureVisitors taking part in craft activities at Chester Zoo in August

Thank you to all who took part. If you missed taking part in summer, we have another opportunity for you to get involved this October half term (Mon 26 – Fri 30, between 1-4pm): find out more here.

With your help, Angela Sidwell (the artist) aims to highlight the conservation issue and how the demand for this plant is impacting wildlife. Angela tells us a little more about how the creative workshops at the zoo went:

“I spent three days at Chester Zoo in my ‘mini studio’ developing ideas for sculptures I’m making for Chester Zoo – which will be exploring themes around the production of palm oil, loss of habitat and also the promotion of sustainable palm oil.

Visitors taking part in the craft activities at Chester Zoo as part of the palm oil challenge

“It was a great opportunity to immerse myself in the project, work with zoo staff, meet visitors to talk about the project and of course be surrounded by the most amazing animals!

“I already had some ideas for the sculptures I intend to make for the project which I had drawn on paper. Being at the zoo enabled me to work through these ideas by making maquettes (small scale models) based on my drawings, whilst talking to staff and visitors, some of whom helped to create the models. We worked with clay and packaging taken from products that contain sustainable palm oil.

“The next stage is to work from these models to create large scale sculptures that will be on public display at the zoo for several months. These will be made predominantly with recycled packaging and fabrics and will feature Orangutans, an emerging palm oil plantation and a deforested area.”

Angela Sidwell making orangutan sculpture at Chester Zoo

Not only has Angela been working with Chester Zoo’s visitors to create this piece of artwork, she has visited a number of schools with our safari rangers.

Carrie Littlehales, one of our safari rangers, tells us more about the Palm Oil Art school visits, below:

“The first school visit for our palm oil art day was at St Theresa’s Catholic Primary School. I visited all the classes to help them create a palm leaf craft. Each student can take the leaf home, which has the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) logo on it.

“Whilst I was going around the school, many of the students said ‘Hi Carrie!’ as I’d been to visit two weeks before, explaining what palm oil was and asking them to collect palm oil packaging for the sculpture that was being made at their school on this art day.

“Angela was getting a number of students from the school to help her make the sculpture. These students seemed to enjoy getting messy!

“Everyone loved their palm leaf – some made it into a fan, some a bracelet and even a hat! All were pleased they could take them home to show their families and tell them about palm oil. It’s been a great success!”

Orangutan sculpture made by Angela Sidwell at Chester ZooMini orangutan sculpture

We also have a couple of informal chats taking place at the zoo. These talks provide you with the chance to meet Chester Zoo staff members and learn more about our Palm Oil Challenge, how we’re leading the way for zoos with this campaign and the work we’re doing out in the field to protect orangutans. We look forward to seeing you there!

Talk one: Sustainable Palm Oil Challenge – meet the conservation officer (Mon 19th October, 2.30pm at Jaguar coffee house)

Talk two: Sustainable Palm Oil Challenge – meet the vets (Thu 22ndOctober, 2.30pm at Jaguar coffee house)