Ralph Steadman FROM - 13 Jan 2018

Ralph Steadman and his Critical Critters

Ralph Steadman is a prolific artist who in his 40 year career has produced thousands of groundbreaking and influential artworks.

Born in 1936, Ralph Steadman began his career as a cartoonist and through the years diversified into many fields of creativity; he is artist, writer, sculptor, cartoonist and designer. His books include the studies of Sigmund Freud and Leonardo da Vinci. Originally labelled a ‘Gonzo’ artist, Steadman burst into the national consciousness by providing the illustrations for Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Since then, he has provided illustrations for collections of poetry by Ted Hughes, Alice in Wonderland and Animal Farm, and has even designed a set of British stamps and the DVD box set for Breaking Bad.

Steadman’s long-term collaborator and fellow Gonzovationist is Ceri Levy, best known for his documentary Bananaz about the pop group Gorillaz and The Bird Effect, which looks at the special affinity humans have with birds.

Read on for a word from the Ministry of Gonzovation, as penned by Ceri Levy:

gon• zo• va• tion
1. alternative conservation through the act of gonzovating.
2. the protection, preservation, management, or restoration of wildlife and of natural resources to include forests, earth and water.
gon• zo• va• tion• ist
1. an alternative conservationist.
2. a person who makes sense from the nonsense.

As Ralph’s wildlife sidekick and having travelled together through the worlds of the extinct and the nextinct, we have tried to make sense of the damage mankind has wreaked upon this planet and its co-habitants. Sense is almost impossible to find but Ralph’s art has come closer than most. We smile at the beasts he conjures up and after our initial laughter intrigue sets in and we begin to look further into the plight of the animals. It is then we begin to understand the commonality of every one of Ralph’s images. They are Critical Critters, united in endangerment and potentially living through their last moments on this earth unless we act now.

Having entered the Anthropocene age (the age of man) we need strong voices to shout about the injustices facing Nature. Ralph has always fought for the little guy, detesting the ever-increasing imbalances of this world and these pictures are a timely advert for the harshly treated. Their eyes focus on us and draw us in, eager to inspire us to learn their stories and help them away from the precipice of oblivion.

Dedicated people fight daily to save a multitude of species from extinction and Ralph’s drawings support their work and are a clarion call to arms for the overwhelmed. A world without lions, tigers and bears? Unimaginable. But without us they are lost, conversely with us they have a chance.

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