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Hung up on mountain gorillas


Project Hangup was founded in 2010 by designer and illustrator Jacinta Sullivan to create beautiful, considered pieces of art and design that promote care for our environment.

Jacinta and Project Hangup work as an advocate for endangered species, aiming to inspire the creative industries to actively consider more innovative, sustainable products and production methods. You could say they have a serious hangup about preserving what is precious in this world and in response they create crafted hangups that raise awareness of pressing issues. Jacinta explains more about the project…

The Inspiration

Ever since I was a child, I have always had a strong love for nature, especially animals and plants. Founding Project Hangup was a natural response to nurturing this passion. It is a platform where I can give nature a voice and share important stories, like the plight of the last mountain gorillas.

The inspiration for Project Hangup’s upcoming exhibition (12-15 June, Major Space Galley, 73-75 Endell St London, WC2H 9AJ), Tragically, a Limited Edition came from many sources. Everything from talking with a close friend who had visited the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, to receiving information about the ‘Draw the Line’ campaign from WWF.

Anna Friel sits on top of a car, with Lake Edward in the background.Anna Friel sits on top of a car, with Lake Edward in the background. © WWF-UK

I was emotionally in awe by Anna Friel’s stories and also outraged by the prospect of Soco drilling for oil in Virunga National Park. It was both love and rage that pushed me to take action and help this critically endangered species. I wanted to create a piece that would make people feel something and start a conversation.

At the time I was exploring Japanese woodblock printing and before I knew it there was a mountain gorilla face staring back at me from the wood. It was such a wonderful face, full of hope. It was then that I decided what better way to start a conversation than to create a limited edition of prints and allow people to stand face to face with the last 880 mountain gorillas.

The Print

To highlight the mountain gorillas in imminent danger in Virunga National Park, 220 prints feature gorillas with gold faces. The remaining 660 gorillas have silver faces.

Gorilla face print template on manual 1878 Albion press © Jacinta SullivanGorilla face print template on manual 1878 Albion press © Jacinta Sullivan

Each print was produced on a hand operated 1878 Albion press at Dekkle Printmaking Studio – specialists in traditional printmaking methods. High quality vegetable oil ink was applied to the raised surface of a hand carved linoleum plate and a sheet of paper was laid on the plate to create an impression when fed through the press. The process was repeated for two or more coloured prints and the complete run required the press to be hand operated 1,760 times!

The Paper

The limited edition of prints are pressed onto beautiful Conqueror Bamboo, a high-yield, ethically grown renewable paper. It is produced in the UK by Arjo Wiggins Creative Papers and was kindly donated by Antalis paper distributors. It is a 50/50 blend of bamboo and FSC wood pulp and uses all natural pigments. These come from Roussillon, one of the world’s premier pigment mines and a sustainable resource to the local population in the south of France.

Gorilla print on paper © Jacinta SullivanGorilla print on paper © Jacinta Sullivan

Since I wrote these words, Soco, the UK oil company holding the concession in Virunga has announced that it will not drill in the park. It has also pledged to remain out of all other UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This battle has been won, but not the war, until the DRC government cancels all concessions that overlap the park. It is a great step forward, which stands as a strong precedent that World Heritage Sites must be protected for future generations.

Virunga, with its beautiful mountain gorillas should stand as an example that conservation can be a viable alternative for sustainable development.

Jacinta Sullivan and David Borrington, Dekkle Printing Studio © Jacinta SullivanJacinta Sullivan and David Borrington, Dekkle Printing Studio © Jacinta Sullivan

A big thank you goes out to everyone involved in this project and I hope you’ve enjoyed the images of the prints of the gorillas and will continue to support WWF-UK in preventing oil drilling in Virunga and other World Heritage Sites.

For more information on Project Hangup, please email info@projecthangup.com or visit the Project Hangup website

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