A Rhino in The Herb Garden

On 4th June 2018 the enlightened pupils at North Harringay Primary School, London returned from a half-term break to discover a Rhino in the herb garden. Further exploration of the outside zones of the school uncovered a climbing Red Panda, a majestic Tiger, an enquiring Red-eyed Tree Frog, a glorious Giraffe, bending to take a drink from one of the playground’s child-proportioned water fountains, and a mature Rhino, casually chewing on a clump of fresh Oregano shoots. A mini-menagerie had magically appeared in their absence.

The five animals in this collection were chosen to introduce the children to the diversity of the animal kingdom, and more critically bring focus to the plight of those species in danger of extinction, along with the rapidly disappearing flora on which they depend. The Sixth Mass Extinction is now a recognised phenomena - this a disconcerting and destructive component of a new epoch known as the Anthropocene age - in which human activity on our planet has become the dominant influence on climate and the environment; polluting the oceans and altering the atmosphere.

This influence has set a new and different trajectory for the Earth system. As the children grow up, and in time produce families of their own, will animals painted on walls be how we remember the creatures which once existed? Will the faded paint-marks of a rhino in the herb garden suggest a visual metaphor for how human caretakers failed to co-exist?

This series of artworks were created with the generous help of the North Harringay Primary PSA, along with the assistance of staff members.

A Rhino in the Herb Garden is partly created in the memory of Sudan - the last male Northern White Rhino of his species - who passed away in March 2018.

Project limited edition prints available on request.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2019.

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