On Sunday, 6 October, wildlife artist Joanna May’s solo exhibition took place in the beautiful setting of Phyllis Court, Henley-on –Thames.
Celebrity supporter Rula Lenska first introduced Animals Asia to Joanna May, and on learning about the plight of the bears she decided to dedicate a solo exhibition to us. Joanna then worked incredibly hard all year, not only in producing five wonderful and unique original paintings of the bears, but also in arranging and hosting the exhibition itself.
Thanks to Joanna’s efforts and generosity, visitors viewed her stunning and highly individual art in the lovely surroundings of Phyllis Court’s ballroom. In a week when Henley was holding its own Literary Festival, Joanna also had the support of the Mayor of Henley, Stefan Gawrysiak and many of the Town Council.
After the morning exhibition, the afternoon event began with Tobiah Star’s beautiful song “Moon Bear”, sung by the artist herself. Visitors were welcomed by the Mayor and David, Joanna’s husband, as well as enjoying a fabulous afternoon tea. Jill Robinson MBE, who arrived only that morning on the ‘red-eye’ from New York, then made a short presentation.
As always, Jill enthralled and moved visitors with her stories of individual bears and the fight to end bear farming. Her presentation was followed by Rula Lenska, who further moved the audience by reading her own poem “Unbearable” representing a very powerful call to people to act to end the cruelty suffered by bile bears.
Finally, Paul Martin, long-term friend of Joanna’s, Animals Asia UK’s Ambassador for Cat and Dog Welfare, and star of BBC TV’s “Flog It”, urged the audience to raise funds for Animals Asia. With the able assistance of Eric Knowles (presenter of Antiques Roadshow), he conducted a very skilled auction consisting of Joanna’s original bear paintings and some of her other limited edition prints of zebras, parrots, lions, leopards and other animals.
By the end of the afternoon, with brisk selling after the auction, all guests departed very happy with significant awareness and funds raised for Animals Asia.
The exhibition raised £3,714.00 and Joanna and David have generously undertaken to raise a total of £6500 to enable them to join the waiting list to name their own bear in due course.
We are very grateful to them both for all their very hard work and dedication to the cause but particularly for their generosity towards our beloved bears.