About the Project
Gillie and Marc were lucky enough to meet the babies of three of the great ape species, chimps, orangutans and gorillas, in the wild and they were surprised how similar they really are to us. These sweet little babies were just as cheeky as human babies and were very attached to their mums. Gillie and Marc could see them grasp onto things, the same way that human babies do, testament to our evolutionary past. We also noticed that the hands of gorilla are very similar to human hands, a beautiful reminder that even physically, we are still from the same family.
About the animal
The great apes - chimpanzee, orangutan, gorillas, and bonobos - are our closest relatives. We share 98% of our DNA with them so, unsurprisingly, we also share many of the same personality traits! They are a part of our family, and families look out for one another. We have to protect them before we lose one of our own!
Gorillas and chimps are also very intelligent and use tools just like we do. They show the same emotions like laughter and sadness, and use facial expressions, gestures and sounds to communicate, just like humans! They have both been taught basic human sign language showing they can think and express their basic needs in the same way humans can. Seeing the empathy and love that these beautiful apes expressed, moved Gillie and Marc to tears. It was one of the most magical moments of their lives to see how these family units loved and cared for one another, a moment that everyone in the world should experience for themselves.
To make the connection even deeper, chimps and humans are thought to share a common ancestor from 4-8 million years ago. That means we are definitely family, distant cousins! In the Malay language, orangutan means “person of the forest”. The Malay people have obviously seen this similarity with ourselves too!
The similarities between us are clear, we are family. Just as you would help your family through rough times, we must help the great apes escape the threat of extinction. Because that’s what families do for each other, we love each other and look out for one another.
About the sculptures
The Chimps Are Moving! Kingston Upon Thames Gets Ready To Welcome The Wild Sculpture That Wowed London Bridge
10 chimpanzees from the hugely successful public art exhibition, ‘Chimps Are Family’, are off to Kingston Upon Thames, the next in line to welcome the adorable apes in this interactive sculpture for conservation.
London Bridge opened the public exhibition and has played host since May 2022. The sculptures were met with huge excitement with thousands of people heading down to learn and play with the charismatic crew. Now it’s Kingston Upon Thames who will take up the care of 10 of the original 18 chimps from late January 2023.
“We were thrilled to see the reception from the public at London Bridge. Now we’re so excited to reach a whole new group of people in Kingston and spread the message of conservation even further,” shares Marc.
“While we were studying the chimps we were absolutely blown away by how similar they were to us! So many of their behaviours were just like ours and the relationships they have, especially between mother and child, was so heartwarming,” remarked Gillie.
These behaviours are what inspired their public sculpture, ‘Chimps Are Family’. Showcasing 10 different chimpanzee behaviours such as laughing, grief, and imitation, the public is given a unique glimpse into the life of a chimp and a greater understanding of our cousins.
“We really hope that this sculpture will help people to see the very real similarities between us and chimps. They laugh at funny things, get cross with one another, and have wonderful bonds of friendship. We hope that once people see how similar we really are they will be moved to protect them,” explains Marc.
‘Chimps Are Family’ is giving the people of London a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with our cousins, but also the opportunity to save them before it’s too late.
These sculptures are designed to be interactive. The public is encouraged to get as close as they want, touching their faces, examining their hands, and giving them a hug. This unique form of public conservation is here to inspire love and connection.
Each of the chimps will be displayed with a QR code where the public can learn all about the individual chimpanzee and find important information surrounding conservation. They will also have the option to donate funds to go directly to save chimpanzees.
The installation promotes the idea that it is possible to share the world we live in with chimps. It reflects the artists’ commitment to ensuring the survival of the species, with all donations going to WWF.
How to help
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while studying, the public will be able to meet individual animals. This will help them to realise that there are apes with unique personalities, thoughts and emotions. The loss of one individual is just as devastating as losing an individual human.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save the great apes.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #ChimpsAreFamily to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe. To help protect the great apes and their habitats you can give a donation to WWF-UK by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/chimpsarefamily
If you are interested in buying chimpanzee related art, you will also be directly helping real chimps in the wild with 30% going to WWF to continue their fantastic work for chimpanzee conservation: Click here to browse art > https://gillieandmarc.com/collections/chimps
For lovers of primates & rhinos
We're based here in the UK to ensure that we're working as hard as possible to make the greatest positive impact to our planet from your donations. In fact you can come visit us. Our UK headquarters - the Living Planet Centre in Woking - has a visitor and education centre so you can pop in and say 'hi'.
We also have local offices in Edinburgh and Cardiff to make sure that we're able to make change happen at a local level - no matter where you are in the UK.
London Bridge City
A destination enjoyed by visitors from across the globe and a river vibe loved by those who work and live in the area.
London Bridge City is surrounded by some of the City’s most famous landmarks and is steeped in rich British culture. This iconic London neighbourhood offers high-flying workers, and laidback visitors alike, an abundance of world-class food, shopping and entertainment, as well as some of the best London tourist attractions. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Borough Market, The View from The Shard, HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, this vibrant and forward thinking community is one of the most visited riverside London destinations.
With half a mile of river frontage along the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, and a total of 21.5 acres of space, it’s a vast and lively mixed-use environment. Encapsulating 3 million sq ft of office, retail and leisure space, along with private residential apartments, the estate is overflowing with historical charm, breath-taking architecture and sensational views. This desirable neighbourhood hosts a contemporary community of some of the world’s most visionary businesspeople, dynamic residents and those seeking an indulgent, yet balanced lifestyle.
Kingston Upon Thames
Located in south-west London, the historic town of Kingston is situated on the picturesque River Thames, just 12 miles from Central London and a 28-minute train ride from Waterloo.
The town is well served by public transport and is close to Heathrow Airport and London’s orbital motorway, the M25.
Kingston is known as the coronation site of as many as 7 Saxon Kings and the birthplace of England. Many relics remain from its rich history including London's oldest bridge - Clattern Bridge, the Coronation Stone purportedly used in the coronation of Saxon Kings as well as a medieval bridge and undercroft.
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Clean, vibrant streets are key not only in positioning Kingston as a must-visit destination, but also for the wellbeing of residents working in the town. We run initiatives that ensure streets are kept attractive and welcoming for visitors and locals alike.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR DONORS:
Mario & Tina Cardinale
The McGhee-Dann Family
VELUX Global Group Functions
Sweetnam and Bradley Ltd
Patrick and Lois Bellew