(for Geoff Francis, Sandi Johnson and Nick and Vanessa Warwick)
From a story by Geoff Francis
Conservation is key, both to animals
And the planet, but more importantly,
Spirit thrives on the transplantation
Of care. Just last week, through sea blood
Such largesse found its limit
When the Cutty Sark housed Sea Shepherd’s fortieth anniversary
And world dare..
Formed to protect the wildlife
Across ravaged coastlines, a gala event
Saw Geoff Francis, No More Dodos
Painter prince donate art. His crests
And collision of paint entitled
Hidden Deep went to auction,
It’s sea swirl and texture revealing
The vast expanse of his heart.
A conservationist king, Francis creates
His own kingdom. And it is one he shares
Gamely with all of those who seek voice
From both beyond and within; subjects
Who seek the same vision in which his
Royal elevation (to monarch from prince)
Be part of the world and in that way
Join with others. These charities house
The towers to both accomplish
And defend. Seeing a beautiful guide dog
In the crowd and drawn as he is
To dog spirit, this new Assisi went
To greet it and the woman it leads
To make friends.
Visually impaired and grown worse
Sandi Johnson’s eyes once praised
Painting but now cannot reach them
As even a gallery’s glass prevents light.
Attuned as she is to the soul
That stirs the artist’s own pigment
Her love of the image was now something
To sense beyond sight.
Geoff Francis’ frame and the sea within
Was solution. Leading Sandi to it,
As a beach to sea, she could feel
The rivulets and the rim, the special
Depths, the ascensions, bringing to her
Dry eyes new water as a vibrancy grew
From the dim.
The secret treasures within restored
Faith and feeling. Moved as she was,
A clear vision and strong emotion grew
To claim her. She was as moved as the sea
And the sculpted turbulence of the painting,
Thanking Geoff, the dog led her away
From the scene and all words.
She didn’t hear the auction begin
And was not aware of the bidding.
Nick and Vanessa Warwick soon bought it
For £500. The artist thanked them
And spoke of Sandi’s reaction, fusing
The beauty of that with donation
As the Gala grew more profound.
What is epic in us? Surely it is the God gift
Of kindness. And so it was that the Warwicks
In gaining place formed new homes,
Both on land and at sea as they gave
Sandi Johnson the painting. Hidden Deep
Is the value of a rarely glimpsed unity.
For a crucial cause, vital acts
Joined the blind to fresh visions.
At a time of near evil, all eyes are open
When we recognise decency.
From painter to prize to pause
In descension. All at once,
A new shoreline and a place
Where the heart becomes free.
Illustration Nick Victor
On a train from Cardiff to London.
I have donated an original sculptural painting, a photograph and No More Dodos has given 2 of our signed Gordon Banks posters to the Sea Shepherd UK’s 40th Anniversary Auction.
In toto they raised £860.
The team who made up Animus ( Hilly Beavan, Anthony Lawrence and myself ) were long time admirers of Sea Shepherd from early on. In the early 80s I organised the first Animal Rights album ‘Animal Tracks’ with Country Joe McDonald. All revenue went to Sea Shepherd. Animus created a record label to release this album and the single ‘Blood on the Ice’.
Formed just 2 years ago, No More Dodos is a registered charity dedicated to highlighting the problems of habitat and biodiversity loss, with all its attendant causes to promote the work of those who are trying to halt its progress and to encourage individuals to take personal action.To do this we are uniquely using Art and Sport in their widest senses to inspire a concern amongst a wider population to bring about changes that are so necessary to save the planet and lifeforms we share it with. Fuller details can be found at http://www.nomoredodos.org
About Sea Shepherd UK
Sea Shepherd UK is a registered marine conservation charity whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife around the UK’s coastline and across the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.
Sea Shepherd UK uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities committed against marine wildlife and habitats. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd UK works to ensure their survival for future generations.
I had donated four pieces to the Sea Shepherd Auction at their 40th Anniversary Gala event. 2 posters signed by Gordon Banks for our charity No More Dodos, a photograph of mine which had appeared in The National Maritime museum and
an original sculptural painting – ‘ Hidden Deep .’
Like much of my work it was created using discarded paints in what I believe is my own idiosyncratic sculptural style.
I am always drawn to dogs and when I spotted a beautiful black labrador guidedog in the crowd I just had to say hello to Kane.
I began to talk with his ward Sandi ( Johnson) and learned she had begun to lose her sight aged 12 and now had deteriorating peripheral vision. She told me that she loved art but could not see anything like that without an extremely strong magnifying device and then only rarely since most things were looked away behind glass.
“ Not this one. This was made for you to experience “, I said and led here across to Hidden Deep and invited her to run her hands across the canvas.
At first she was quite tentative and timid in her approach.
The painting was created as a statement about the things that are hidden in the oceans, the dark deeds of humanity which Sea Shepherd inspiringly and bravely bring to the surface. I had dropped 3 threads of a deep red industrial paint on the surface to represent the destruction beneath. Differing in texture it was raised and I led her fingers to it.
She exclaimed “ I have never experienced Art like this. I think I am going to cry.”
If there was ever a better justification of my work than in those words I have never heard it.
We talked in front of the painting for a long while and she asked what it was likely to sell at.
At this point Kane decided it was time to take Sandi back to where she had been sitting.
She did not hear the auction announcement.
Hidden Deep sold immediately at the reserve of £500.
The purchasers were Vanessa and Nick Warwick.
I went across to thank them.
As we talked I told them Sandi’s experience, but omitted any indication that she would have liked to have bid.
The couple went and paid for the picture during which time they had made the most wonderful decision.
They did no more than go to Sandi and tell her they wanted to give it to her.
I watched her face .She was shocked, speechless as the tears trickled down her face.
Over an hour later she told me she was still shaking.
Everyone I have told has loved our story.
It truly belongs to all of us including Kane of course.
Reactions have been tears ,clutching hearts and real chills.
These are from email exchanges between Sandi and the Warwicks.
Am waiting addtions
“I can’t really put into words how overwhelmed I was by your generous gift on Saturday night, it was such a kind thing to do.
As you can see from the photos below, it takes pride of place in our kitchen dining room, closely guarded by Kane.
Thank you so much again for your kindness, I have been telling friends and family the story and nobody can believe it!
Hope we meet again where I may have a little more to say for myself than the last time we met.”
“The truth is that we (those that attended) were all, as a collective, the kindest people because we really genuinely care.
No one person was kinder. What WE are protecting is important.
The painting was, as I learned, always yours, only you could appreciate it by feel as much as I/we did by sight – it would be wrong to have kept it, as much as we liked it.
It makes us so happy that you have it in pride and place and we will never forget that.
The painting looks perfect in it’s place.
Vanessa says “ You seemed the perfect owner of the picture and, from the photos you have kindly sent us, it looks like it was made for that spot!
We hope you enjoy your painting in the years to come.”