My interest in the lives of animals arose when I first began to learn about what I contributed to by consuming animal products. My work aims to question, in a creative and non-threatening way, the industrialised practice of farming, slaughtering and consuming animals and their products. I want to question the social conditioning surrounding the consumption of animals, and the cognitive dissonance that exists in seeing oneself as actively against cruelty and oppression, whilst literally swallowing it everyday.
As a child, the first discrimination we come across is not based upon a person’s skin or gender. The very first time society tells us that one life is inherently more valuable than another, is when we are taught to love our dog, but eat our bacon.
Pigs and dogs share many physical and emotional attributes. They are both omnivorous, highly sociable, and intelligent creatures that have the capacity to feel pain, fear, comfort and joy. Despite these similarities, we love one as a member of our family, and grow and harvest the other as if it were a field of wheat.
The Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China receives international condemnation each year for the slaughter and consumption of an animal defined by the Western community as a “pet”. If the notion ‘it is wrong to eat dogs’ is sound logic, it follows that protesting the consumption of dog meat is inherently hypocritical, as the protest of animal consumption is based on the arbitrary distinctions of “pet” and “livestock”.
In this exhibition, I have carefully drawn and painted these animals as the individual beings that they are. Displayed side by side, I hope to present the pigs and dogs in these portraits as equally deserving of respect and empathy, and to highlight the injustice of seeing one as friend, and the other as food.