- Children’s art competition to shed light on Australia’s threatened sharks and rays
- Australian artists including Ken Done will create works inspired by winning children’s entries
- Child and artist’s work will be exhibited at the Australian Museum in 2024
Australia’s oceans are home to some fantastic sharks and rays, some of which we don’t know much about, let alone what they look like in their natural habitat. Some of these fascinating endemic species are at risk of extinction before we even get to know them.
To spark children’s interest in these fantastic creatures and their imaginations, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) with Humane Society International (HSI) Australia, in collaboration with the Australian Museum, are running a competition over the summer holidays asking children to draw, paint or even make a collage of some of these creatures from just a written description.
The 10 winners will then be paired with leading artists, including Janet Laurence, First Nations artist Reko Rennie and Australian treasure Ken Done, who will each create an artwork inspired by the winning children’s work.
The children’s and artists’ work will then be displayed alongside at the Australian Museum’s Fantastical Sharks & Rays Exhibition, which will run from 31 August 2024 to 26 January 2025. Entries for the competition close 29 February 2024.
Ken Done said: “This is a unique project and one that I am immensely looking forward to participating in. If it helps to protect some of the world’s endangered species, that would be a great achievement for us all.”
Children aged 15 or younger are asked to draw or paint one of 10 fantastic endemic sharks and rays.
They include the greeneye spurdog, which uses its big green eyes to see in almost pitch-black depths up to 1km down, and has a small organ on its head that enables it to tell day from night in the dark depths. The whitefin swellshark will swallow water to swell up to almost twice its size to make itself look bigger and harder to eat. The bright-yellow-and-white-speckled eastern angelshark lays buried in the sand on the seafloor for days on end before it ambushes unsuspecting prey that swims above its mouth.
AMCS Threatened Species Campaign Manager Alexia Wellbelove said: “What better way to capture the wonder of our little-known and uniquely Aussie sharks and rays than through the power of kids’ imaginations. The Fantastical Sharks and Rays art competition provides an incredible opportunity to learn about these amazing animals, many of which are our most endangered. It’s the perfect antidote to boredom on the school holidays.”
HSI Australia marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said: “Threatened marine wildlife such as the Maugean skate are so close to disappearing forever, and we need to bring their plight to the national stage. Exciting, vibrant artworks from children and renowned artists alike are going to showcase these rare sharks and rays in a way we’ve never seen before.”
This project is being brought to life by AMCS’s creative partner, Innocean Australia, the Australian Museum with curators and art consultants Natalia Ottolenghi-Bradshaw and Arts-Matter.
Details on how to enter, along with the full list of endemic sharks and rays for artistic inspiration, can be found on the official competition webpage at sharkchampions.org.au/fantastical-sharks-and-rays/