What’s with all the critters?

You may well have spotted a few new inhabitants on the website this month; some wondrous creatures have moved in, penned by the inimitable hand of Ralph Steadman, who began visiting us and working with us ten years ago now. They’re a delight for the eye but there’s a more sombre reason we should all be taking note: their days may be numbered. Ceri Levy, Ralph Steadman’s partner in crime, who co-wrote Critical Critters with Ralph’s wonderful art, fills us in. 

gon·zo·va·tion·ist

1. an alternative conservationist.
2. a person who makes sense from the nonsense.

Ralph and I are gonzovationists who have 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 but sense is almost impossible to find although 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 the images. They are Critical Critters, united in endangerment and potentially living through their last moments on this earth unless we act now.

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 action to defend the overwhelmed. A world without lions, tigers and bears? Unimaginable. Without us they are lost, but conversely with us they have a chance. We’ve become gonzovationists.  Will you?

In 2015, Ralph and I created chaos in the Bowling Green tent during our talk as we invited people up onstage to draw with Ralph. We auctioned off the work for charity and afterwards I will never forget Ralph entering a Portaloo and re-appearing shouting, “You’ll never guess who I found in here,” as he dragged out Rick Stein, who looked bemused but proved utterly charming as Ralph berated him for the deterioration of Masterchef, even though it’s not Rick’s programme. You never know what chance encounter may happen next at Port Eliot and that is what makes it the best weekend of the summer. Roll on July!

And in the meantime, be a gonzovationist in whatever way you can. Go out, clear rubbish from beaches, plant wildflowers for the bees, write to your local MP, even cut down your plastic waste. And then come back and tell us what you’ve been up to. Commit an Act of Gonzovation!

~ Ceri Levy