Giant Golden Monkey at Inverleith House
10 meter tall giant Golden Monkey exhibited on exterior of Inverleith House, highlighting urgent action needed on climate change
Australian ecological artist Lisa Roet’s inflatable Golden Monkey installations have previously scaled skyscrapers in Beijing and Hong Kong, but this Autumn the Golden Monkey sculpture made its UK debut on the exterior of one of Edinburgh's most prestigious art galleries.
The sculpture was installed on the exterior of Inverleith House, as part of their transformation into Climate House, a three-year programme of visual art, drawing attention to our global climate crisis, in partnership with the Serpentine Galleries and funded by Outset Contemporary Art Fund.
Highlighting primate species whose lives and habitats are under threat from the sprawling concrete jungles of our modern world, Roet is known for her giant, inflatable, intricately detailed sculpture of the golden snub-nosed monkey – an endangered species found in the frosty, mountainous forests of central and southwestern China.
The 10 metre high Golden Monkey installation first appeared on the Melbourne Town Hall in Australia and subsequent versions have decorated The Opposite House hotel in Beijing as part of Beijing Design Week, the Temple House in Chengdu and even hung off the high rise building H-Code in the centre of Hong Kong. Other giant primate sculptures include the Skywalker Gibbon perched on top of the Opposite House with arms dangling over the edge and a ten-metre-tall gorilla named Baboe - currently towering over Apeldoorn Town Hall in the Netherlands. Her most recent work, launched on 24 November in Australia, is a chimpanzee called David Greybeard. Her largest sculpture to date, he was created in collaboration with Dr Jane Goodall and the Jane Goodall Institute.
The sculpture showed a golden snub-nosed monkey. There are five species of snub-nosed monkey. All are at risk of extinction and their future existence is in serious doubt. The five species live separately in temperate and tropical forest areas, with a different diet of leaves, buds, flowers, fruits, barks, lichens and moss. The golden snub-nosed monkey withstands cold better than any other primate (except humans with thermals). This hand-painted, inflatable sculpture was one of a series created to highlight the plight of these increasingly endangered primates.
Emma Nicolson, Head of Creative Programmes at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said, “We are thrilled to be premiering this important work by Lisa Roet as part of our inaugural season of Climate House. The work is a statement reminding us that we all need to act, and now, to prevent further ecological disaster. I also hope the work gives us, in 2020, a work to see as we spend time outdoors, to reflect upon and with.”
Artist Lisa Roet said: "I’m so excited to see this work come to Scotland , presented in the prestigious Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh sharing the message about sustainability and conservation".
The Golden Monkey represents the highly endangered snub-nosed monkey found in high altitudes in Yunnan (In fact the Golden Snub Nosed Monkey is the highest living non-human primates on the planet). With its cute, upturned nose , this monkey is revered in Chinese mythology and celebrated globally for its elusive beauty.
Golden Monkey is the first in a series of many large-scale artworks about Biodiversity. These works are designed to raise awareness about extinction of species and to address issues associated with increasing urbanisation and habitat destruction. Illegal logging , as in many parts of the world, has poised a major threat to the survival of this rare and beautiful monkey.
The work has been developed using a circular sustainable model. Concerned with sustainability, Roet collaborates with scientists and primatologists such as The Jane Goodall Institute and is currently working with environmental experts to ensure her own artistic practice is sustainable and carbon zero.
The sculpture was seen alongside a major new exhibition inside Climate House. Florilegium: A gathering of flowers features works showing plants that can be seen growing in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Glasshouses, and others of significant scientific value. Joining these botanical artworks are a series of new and existing works from Annalee Davis, Wendy McMurdo, Lee Mingwei and Lyndsay Mann. Work draws upon ideas of death, renewal, ritual and colonial history and span photography, moving image and works on paper.
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