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UK artists leave me 'Moonstruck'

Little did I know, when first introduced to some new UK supporters during a roadshow event some years ago, that they would turn out to be such generous and magnificent supporters of our work to end bear farming.

Suzie Marsh and Richard Symonds are well-known wildlife artists – Suzie’s sculptures and Richard’s pencil drawings are collected by both individuals and businesses, and exhibited nationally and internationally. After hearing about the bears’ plight, they both immediately pledged their support through their art and were as good as their word.

Suzie sculpted the beautiful bear that rode the Animals Asia Hope of Freedom elephant in London’s 2010 Elephant Parade and both have donated their work to Animals Asia auctions, raising many thousands of pounds. This was not enough for them though and eventually they offered to hold a joint exhibition with up to 50 per cent of the proceeds of sales being donated to Animals Asia!

Last year they visited our sanctuary in China to collect material for the exhibition. The visit was unforgettable - with many of the bears outdoing each other to strike memorable poses - and with Richard and Suzie immensely moved by all they saw. Although all of the bears were happy in the spring sunshine, Richard, Suzie and I couldn't help losing ourselves to the emotion of it all at the sight of bears that had previously spent decades in cages.

Suzie: “Arriving at the sanctuary and seeing my first bears just overwhelmed me like a tidal wave. They are such magnificent creatures. To see how they can recover from what humans have done to them is mind blowing.”

Since that time, Richard and Suzie have been working round the clock to produce the stunning drawings and sculptures that are now about to be exhibited in London’s Menier Gallery from 25-28 April. Entitled “Moonstruck”, the exhibition is full of wonderful original pieces, limited and open editions so something to fit all budgets. It contains not only images of some of our favourite bears, but also stunning studies of other Chinese wildlife, such as pandas, tigers and snow leopards.

I am delighted to be opening the exhibition on 24 April with our good friend and supporter, UK actor Brian Blessed. I’ll also be returning on 27 April when both artists will be conducting live demonstrations of sculpting and drawing from 3–5pm.

I would urge all our UK supporters to visit the exhibition to see, and perhaps purchase, some of these beautiful works for themselves.

For those unable to visit the exhibition, an online gallery of these truly stunning images will be available on the website from 25th April, with artwork still available for purchase.

I am so excited about the exhibition and would just like to thank Richard and Suzie again now for their generosity and commitment to our beautiful bears. Please do visit the exhibition in person or online and make all their incredible efforts worthwhile.

Rich:"Apart from capturing these fantastic brave, heroic and playful animals for eternity on canvas so that they will never be forgotten, I hope above all else to help bring awareness of the terrible plight of the bears suffering at man's hand. It is without doubt that Jill has started a ball rolling that just will not stop until the last bile farm is closed and these majestic souls can finally live a life of peace. I am honoured to be a small part of this huge ball."

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