The Public Art Experience

Gillie and Marc are creating not just public sculptures but an entire experience. They are interactive, inviting people to touch, to learn, to connect, and to share. It is inviting them to be more than just mere bystanders, but to become a part of something much bigger, helping us to move humanity forward to a more loving and thoughtful place.

Humans are tactile creatures. As children we learn by touching, tasting, listening. That learning style stays with us for our entire lives and so when we truly engage with something, using multiple senses and becoming an active participant, our interest is piqued, our enjoyment is doubled, and our retention goes through the roof! Now, this experience and learning can be seen on the streets of major cities around the world. It is known as the public art experience by Gillie and Marc Schattner.

The world of art has gone through a transformation. It has moved from ‘plonk art’, art that's only purpose is aesthetics and the representation of the internal soul of the artist, to one that can change the world. Using true engagement and tangible experiences, public art has transformed from something that can be seen to something that can be lived. With this power, public art experiences can change the hearts and minds of the public and invite them to become a part of a global cause, from gender equality to conservation.

Humans are social animals, and in many ways, we need physical touch to form deep bonds. When we feel connected to something, we genuinely care and want to get involved. Many people will never get the opportunity to experience something like the endangered animals of the world in real life so the issue is far from their minds. That is where Gillie and Marc are forming a bridge. By bringing the animals to the city where they can get up close to them, touch them, and build a connection, those important bonds necessary for change can be formed and the inspiration to take action to protect them found. Without this, the plight of the animals will stay in the dark.

By using art in this way, it can be the catalyst for change, a grassroots movement that can inspire thousands of others to join in, given momentum because they have physically experienced it. Gillie and Marc are the leaders in public art experiences, having made many successful works around the world. All of the projects are linked with a hashtag, encouraging people to share their unique experiences with the sculptures to their friends and family, spreading their messages far and wide across the globe. But they don’t just focus on spreading the word, it wouldn’t be a real experience without something a little bit different...

Case Studies

The Last Three

The Last Three is a gigantic 17-foot-tall sculpture of the last surviving northern white rhinos left on the planet, Najin, Fatu, and Sudan. Installed in the heart of NYC in 2018, this sculpture was created to bring the public’s attention to the world’s most critically endangered animal and raise awareness and funds to help combat the illegal trade of rhino horns that had decimated this and many other species of rhinos.

Not only was this statue large enough to catch the attention of anyone nearby, but it also included a virtual reality experience of the real rhinos back in Kenya, giving a glimpse of the live wildlife that the world is losing sight of. The sculpture also included an educational and interactive app so the public can learn about the rhinos and the reason why they are facing extinction, encouraging them to sign a petition to the Chinese and Vietnamese governments to eliminate the demand for rhino horns.

Sadly, soon after the sculpture was installed, Sudan, the last male on earth passed away, bringing new meaning to the sculpture which became a shrine of remembrance. The public showered the sculpture with flowers and letters of love and loss, showing how much they had been touched by this story and had garnered an understanding of a subject that many would have known nothing about. Now permanently housed at San Antonio Zoo in Texas, The Last Three continue to raise critical awareness and much-needed funds for the last two northern white rhinos on earth. 

The Orphans – Elephants of Tomorrow

Gillie and Marc have created this monumental sculpture installation entitled The Orphans, featuring 20 bronze elephant calves running towards a 3-metre-tall mother, representing the mother the babies have lost. The mother’s tusks have been painted a deep blue to draw attention to all the issues of elephant endangerment and to make people reconsider what tusks are now and what they will be in the future. This installation is a reminder of the orphans who are left behind because of human selfishness and serves as a vessel to raise critical awareness and funds to save elephants before it’s too late.

Each sculptured baby symbolises a real orphaned elephant in the care of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust that the artists sketched on a trip to Kenya. Using a QR code found on each of the sculptures, the public can get information on the real elephants and even have a link to a live webcam of them. They can also go one step further and adopt the babies, making them a tangible part in the survival of the African elephants. Already over $500K has been raised for their protection because of this project.

King Nyani

King Nyani is the largest bronze gorilla sculpture in the world and gives an interactive experience unlike any other. With his hand large enough to fit 2-3 people, the public can get up close and personal with this gentle giant and fall in love with him, showing the true side of gorillas rather than the one of aggression and fear that is so often portrayed in the media.

King Nyani is the most interactive sculpture on earth with over 200 thousand people having sat in his hand and had their photo taken. When Nyani was first installed, lines of people twisted through Bella Abzug Park in NYC for days, all waiting to have their chance to sit in his hand. Once they have had their photo opportunity, the public can see the real gorillas using a QR code, linking the experience they have just had with the real and endangered mountain gorillas in Africa, cementing the experience and the emotions they have just had. There is also a drawing competition of gorilla art, encouraging people to celebrate and raise awareness for gorillas through art.