Minus One, Minus All

About the Project

‘Minus One, Minus All’ is an art coffee table book with a difference. A book showcasing my wildlife art, combined with my writings and those of individuals and organisations. This is a book to highlight the global decline in animal species diversity and Why it matters.

Contributors would add writings on their work, their hopes or a theme; anything from a sentence to an essay. Unfortunately, I am unable to pay royalties, however contributors’ names would be under their writings and a list of credits would appear at the end of the book for both them and photographers who have granted permission for photos as reference for the artwork.

By including messages from respected individuals, both sweeping and specific to their areas of expertise, I hope to highlight concerns and provide a call to action or stories of positive change. Complimenting the artwork, I will include my own writings and poetry. This adds lyricism and beauty to the artwork, combined with the scientific and individual focus of others and creates variation in form.

Animals will include flagship species such as the Sumatran tiger and giant panda. But will also include species that are at risk of extinction yet are largely unrecognized as being in danger or are themselves unfamiliar to the wider public, such as the corroboree frog and the kakapo. If people are taught to view the threat to one species as a threat to the ecosystem, perhaps we have a chance to turn our destructive habits around. It is about connecting with people on an emotional level and it is about education.

Minus One animal, and for a species on the brink, it is literally Minus All. But there is also the fact that Minus One species and a whole ecosystem can become unbalanced. In the microcosm of a single habitat the loss of one group of animals can tip into a spiral of decline for All. Ecosystems rely on each other. Animals rely on each other. In the macrocosm of earth’s life, the decline of key species can devastate what remains.

We once viewed the natural world in isolation; each animal and plant separate from each other. As if diversity meant only the variety of natural resources for us to exploit. We have come to understand that no species exists in a vacuum. Including Us. We each rely on other in an intricate and barely comprehended dance of coexistence. Like a filigree spiders web each strand is connected to and supports the next.

For many of the world’s species, life teeters on the edge of extinction. Sometimes their loss is like the crashing of a broken bough smashing its way to the forest floor. For others it is the falling of the leaves. Hardly heard, hardly felt. But when the tree is denuded then, it is then that we notice. And we will notice too late. When a whole forest of species falls our world is stripped bare. And we are left with scars, a ravaged landscape of what once was.

It is not only the tragedy of the loss of aesthetic beauty; of sounds and forms. It is the intricate balance that keeps nature healthy. Extinction does matter. And it has fallen to us to be the guardians of our world.
The natural world is fascinating and precious. It is both enduring and fragile. When the song of a bird is lost forever, we have lost a part of ourselves. We have a duty to preserve what we can. In some small way I strive to touch the heart of those that view my work. To me if I interest one person in protecting what surrounds us, then my art and writing are worthwhile.

Artworks in Progress

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

 
A Selection of Artwork to Be Created

Broad-headed Snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides)
Eastern Quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus)
Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree)
Mallee Emu Wren (Stipiturus mallee)
Blue Duck (Whio) (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos)
Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)
Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)
Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Blue Mountain Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis)
Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Completed Artwork

Australiasian Crested Grebes (adult and chicks) (Podiceps cristatus australis)
Burmese Elephant / Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)
Nepalese Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens)
New Zealand Dotterel / Northern Red-breasted Plover (non-breeding plumage) (Charadrius aquilonius)
North Island Brown Kiwi / Northern Brown Kiwi (female and male) (Apteryx mantelli)
North Island Brown Kiwi / Northern Brown Kiwi (male and chick) (Apteryx mantelli)
North Island Brown Kiwi / Northern Brown Kiwi study (hatchling) (Apteryx mantelli)
North Island Brown Kiwi / Northern Brown Kiwi study (chick) (Apteryx mantelli)
Short-clawed Asian Otter / Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus)
Short-clawed Asian Otter Asian Small-clawed Otter study (Aonyx cinereus)
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris ssp. sumatrae)

The animals listed above are classified as Near Threatened through to Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species or Nationally Vulnerable in parts of their range.

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Examples of Marie-Claire's Writing

Birches in Winter

White      bark and lint-flecked trunks,
branches bare as cello strings to be plucked by the wind.
I sigh into this solitude
vacate the hollowed spaces within
Let them lie fallow      untilled.
The bird      black in the boughs
shivers at the paucity      the brevity of leaves
and I in my wandering      sit on the bank
and throw stones for the thrush to mistake for snails
Hammering      yielding the soft flesh of yesteryear
But today no more
The snails are shells      empty in the blight
like my thoughts,      the sky and the trees.

Breaking Free of the Dark – New Zealand Dotterel

Pewter sea stretches tentative fingers onto the shell grit and seaweed strewn sand; still in the haven of dreaming, that secretive and seductive pre-dawn. Wave-debris crunches beneath the chilled soles of my feet as I meander along their undulating lines. The sharp tang of pearl-studded weed, fronds wetly crisp underfoot, mingles with the sifting sounds of distant birds breaking free of the dark and the ceaseless susurration of lapping water.

Like an advance honour guard a blackbird tentatively tunes his instrument before launching into song. Nearby, the Tui waits, biding his time from the Kowhai tree before the strong mana of his singing claims centre stage. Light creeps in on the breeze, imperceptibly lending form, revealing the curve of the shore and the clusters of claw prints marking a diligent foray. I follow the small patterns as they weave up and down the bank and then I see it, so still it seems a trick of my eyes, a Dotterel. I blink to focus the slight form, one foot poised, head sleekly rounded against the silvery sea.

Clouds scud like shoals of Tarakihi over the now subdued stars and with them comes the dawn. Light blooms. Colour seeps from the moist sky, greys feathering to blues and subdued tones. Hue and line become ever clearer; the sharp-edged roof of the nearest house, a twining tangle of weed, a discarded sandal with the buckle pitted with rust. The Dotterel stands motionless. Feathers now etch themselves rank upon rank and the newly-gilt flash of an eye catches upon the brimming avian chorus. It stutters forward, head tilted in alarm at my intrusion and then warily returns to probing the sand.

The ink wash of night bleeds silently into the waves, defining shadows where there were none. Each rising cap throws off its shade and stands proudly in the waxing light. Once silver they now shine burnished; row upon row of gilded motion. As the land sheds the patina of night and the sun, risen to expose the coruscating breadth of its orb, burns down, I cast one last lingering look upon the small bird so intent on survival and ingesting a last deep breath turn away.