Graffiti takes on extinction


Something strange is happening in South Africa’s cities. The walls don’t just have ears, they’re coming to life. Brick façades have been transformed into giant, radiant animals that snarl and prowl within the cityscape. They look down upon passers-by: these are our streets too, they say. South African based graffiti artist Sonny created these large-scale murals as part of To The Bone, a series that brings endangered wildlife to the centre of attention in an effort to save them.

Sonny moved to South Africa from England when he was 11 years old, and fell in love with the wildlife. Although he has always had a creative side, he only began painting in his mid-twenties. He wanted to use his talent to bring change, doing so under the name Sonny. With the clock ticking on extinction, he decided to not only promote dialogue through his art but to raise funds for conservation. In addition to his street art, which he has taken to New York, Russia, and Europe, he has made hand-painted skull replicas of animals and a series of artworks, each of which show an animal’s face being stripped away, revealing tribal patterns underneath. The patterns are from the animal’s origin country, showing that if we lose them we also lose a piece of our heritage. But with their massive size, the murals interrupt the façade of everyday life, reminding people of the urgent action required if we are to protect our wildlife.

“You’re putting something in front of people’s faces at a large scale, and there’s not many people who walk past a big piece of art and don’t stop and look,” Sonny says. He has partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and will be donating 10 percent from the sale of his artworks to Project C.A.T., Conserving Acres for Tigers. “Creativity has allowed me to travel the world and push boundaries and push myself and spread a message,” he says. “People need to be aware of the troubles that are happening around conservation and support the people that are trying to protect our wildlife.”