This May, the world’s largest sculpture will be unveiled in Singapore. Designed by internationally renowned artists, Gillie and Marc, Love The Last March depicts the greatest animal march on earth. Set to be unveiled on National Endangered Species Day 2023 on 19th May at Gardens by the Bay, the sculpture aims to bring awareness to the massive rate of wildlife extinction and to help save the animal kingdom.
The artists behind the sculpture, Gillie and Marc are no strangers to crafting monumental public sculptures that bring awareness to wildlife. Over the course of their careers, their sculptures have been displayed across major capital cities across the globe. For Love The Last March, the artists crafted a total of 45 of the world’s most endangered species led by a great mountain gorilla, who leads this important march.
But Love The Last March is more than just a public sculpture. An augmented reality experience also awaits the public, allowing the animal sculptures to ‘leap out’ of their static bronze bodies and begin their march, making it seem as though they are marching live together for their lives. Ahead of the big reveal, AugustMan speaks to Gillie and Marc to discuss more about their latest sculpture and how they are bringing awareness to wildlife through their art.
Love The Last March is the longest sculpture in the world and a piece that holds significant importance. As an artist what was it like taking on such a project?
This is a dream come true but also a huge responsibility. On an artistic level, it’s really pushing ourselves to go bigger and further than we, or anyone for that matter, has ever gone before. We’ve never been content to do what’s easy or to fit into the normal sphere. So creating the longest sculpture is our way of going that bit further.
But this was only a very small part of why we wanted to do this. Both of us have been passionate eco-warriors since we were children. As adults, we’ve dedicated our lives to it. Conservation is the most important issue facing the world right now. So many unique and precious animals have been pushed to the brink of extinction. We want the rest of the world to understand how huge this is! But we also want them to become as passionate, finding the incredible joy that we feel when we interact with wildlife. It’s the most magical thing in the world in our opinion. We want everyone to experience that.
What is the message you wanted to convey specifically in this sculpture?
We’re currently experiencing the sixth mass extinction with species disappearing at a terrifying rate. We need to make conservation one of the most important issues and work together to stop this. We’re at the stage where it’s not enough to have a select few who are passionate. If we’re to turn the tide on extinction, everyone must take up the call.
It’s not just because it’s sad to see the incredible diversity of the natural world diminishing, it’s also important for the survival of humans too. We cannot live without the wild so we must learn to welcome it into our lives once more. We must rewild the world and stop seeing ourselves as separate from nature.
How long did it take from concept to reality to produce Love The Last March?
A very long time! It’s taken a lot of planning, trial and error, and a lot of patience to get us this far. In total it took us 5 years.
What was the most challenging aspect about creating this sculpture?
One of the most time-consuming but incredibly fun parts was making our way across the world to spend time with all of these animals. Each sculpture is based on real sketches and photographs we’ve taken. As we watch the animals, we study their movements and behaviours to really get a sense of them. This is the best way to get an accurate portrayal and really bring them to life.
Other than that, the size would definitely have been the most challenging. It takes huge amounts of resources and engineering know-how to create something on this scale.
The augmented reality angle of the sculpture sounds cool. Are you happy to have this interactive element?
Humans sense and understand predominately through vision, but also through touch. So to get up close to these animals, study their shape and stroke their bodies, has a profound effect, even in bronze. It’s a way to build connection, helping people to find this link to an animal they may never get to experience in the wild. Sometimes it’s not because of a lack of want or finances (a safari in Africa is very expensive for most), but because the animals are simply too rare to be spotted. AR is a way to add to this connection and engage people even further. Just by using their phones, they will be able to learn of the good WWF can do, but also what they can do. It allows them to act and make a difference. And even better, anyone from anywhere in the world can experience this part of the project.
How does art play a role in advocating the importance of conservation?
Art can cross boundaries. It speaks to people of different cultures, genders, religions, anything. It shares stories, sparks emotions, and encourages conversations. It’s an incredible tool that connects people and creates community. Examples of this can be seen all over the world; the Statue of Liberty is an icon of NYC and a symbol of hope and welcome, and the Moai or Easter Island heads share the stories of an ancient civilization. And we’ve seen it in our own works. We’ve seen people all over the world fall in love with baby elephants, rhinos, and even a giant gorilla. And the best part is, we see the message of conservation being shared around the globe every single time.
Conservation lies at the heart of your artworks, why inspired this?
As we mentioned before, both of us fell in love with the wild at young ages. We’ve both also been lucky enough to have fundamental wildlife experiences which shaped our paths very clearly. For Gillie, this started when she was a little girl growing up in Africa. One day out on safari they heard a gunshot and a gut-wrenching cry. Rushing over they discovered a gorgeous elephant gunned down by poachers. As the young Gillie watched this gorgeous creature die, she vowed she would do whatever she could to protect all creatures from this horrible fate.
For Marc, things really kicked off for him in his early 20’s. After watching a documentary about Dr. Jane Goodall and her famous chimps, he jumped on a plane to Tanzania and asked to help. This experience helped him to understand the intricate interconnectivity of all living things. His vow was to protect this perfect balance in any way he could.
From there we have been so fortunate to have had many more life-changing wildlife experiences. And not once has the magic ever faded. This is the most precious thing in the world and it’s our duty to protect it.
(Images: Gillie and Marc)