Sussex-based photographer and writer, Ian Wood, presents a unique insight into some of the natural world’s most awe-inspiring inhabitants in his exhibition Great Apes (17th October – 17th December 2020) currently on show at The Lucy Bell Gallery in St Leonards.

Highly revered within his field as a creative, Wood’s work has been widely featured across an impressive array of media on a truly global scale, in publications such as The Guardian and The National Geographic Traveller, and many more.

Happy Families by Ian Wood

Great Apes gives a glimpse into the lives of a variety of primates, capturing some of their most intimate moments. Wood’s photos expertly convey the sheer majesty of these astounding creatures, whilst also encapsulating an innate passion for his remarkable subject matter.

The concept for the show evolved from Wood’s own concerns for the already endangered animals’ fate, in the wake of the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent impact this has undoubtedly had on previous conservation and fundraising efforts.

As such, a proportion of all proceeds raised by any images sold from the show (which also includes some additional limited edition prints signed by Ian Wood himself) will go to one of three charities: The Orangutan Foundation UK, Gorilla Doctors and The Jane Goodall Institute. Each organisation shares a common aim, to preserve the wellbeing of these proud yet inherently vulnerable creatures, whilst also acknowledging the vital role their existence plays within the wider eco-system at large.

In a further gesture of support for the above charities and the magnificent animals they work so hard to protect, the first edition of one photo of each animal has been signed by Sir David Attenborough, as well as by the renowned conservationists Dr. Jane Goodall DBE and Ashley Leiman OBE. These prints will be auctioned online (details of which can be found on The Lucy Bell Gallery website) with all funds going directly to the organisations, as previously noted.

I was sadly unable to visit Great Apes in person due to the recently imposed lockdown, but enjoyed it from afar, online, instead. It’s a testament to Ian Wood’s expertise as a photographer that I found myself utterly enthralled by the show, despite the remote context from which I was forced to view it.

The Kiss by Ian Wood

One of my favourite images: The Kiss, features two primates, one embracing the other in a near Christlike pose, which feels strangely reminiscent of a painting by one of the great masters of yesterday; whilst the arresting portrait of a female gorilla in Motherly Love is simply a wonder to behold, brimming with maternal instinct and virtuous intent.

Indeed, perhaps the over-arching message of the show is just how precious these animals are and how similar we are to them.

Great Apes is a fascinating exhibition and brings one face to face with creatures that are as complex as they are engaging – full of wisdom and hidden mirth. Yet they are also heartbreakingly fragile, and Wood’s work serves as a pertinent reminder that we all have a responsibility to nurture and preserve these incredible beings – before it’s too late.

Great Apes is running until 17th December 2020, please refer to The Lucy Bell Gallery website for more details:

Coming soon: You can listen to Mia’s interview with Ian Wood in a forthcoming Arts episode of the HIP podcast. Please refer to our website for further information

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