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Giant giraffe raises awareness of endangered species

Published: 1 March 2024 at 13:51

Alice Courtley illustrating her giraffe

Sneak peak of Anglia Ruskin’s involvement in Cambridge Standing Tall charity project

Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge School of Art has released a first glimpse of the giant giraffe that will soon take pride of place outside ARU on East Road in Cambridge.

Designed by ARU graduate Alice Courtley, the giraffe will form part of the Cambridge Standing Tall sculpture art trail delivered by local charity Break in partnership with Wild in Art, with all funds raised going towards the charity’s work for young care leavers.

The world’s tallest animal, giraffes are vulnerable to extinction and ARU’s giraffe is emblazoned with hand painted pictures of other species, to help raise awareness of endangered animals around the world.

Alice, who is a graduate of the MA in Children’s Book Illustration course at ARU, had a particular challenge when it came to painting ARU’s giant giraffe, which is 2.5m high.

The award-winning Cambridge-based illustrator explained:

“Most of my work involves illustrating children’s books, so this is by far the largest illustration I’ve ever been asked to do! When the time came to paint our giraffe, I was struck down with Covid and so couldn’t leave the house.

“Amazingly, the giraffe just about squeezed through the front door, so I was able to paint it in my lounge. It certainly dominated the house for a while, and I’m not quite sure what my cat, Oskar, thought of our temporary new pet, but I’m really pleased with the end result.”

ARU’s giraffe will soon be welcomed to its new home, outside ARU’s main entrance on East Road, ready to take part in the Cambridge Standing Tall trail. This begins on 21 March and runs until 2 June, and involves 31 giraffes in different locations across the city.

Joe McCullagh, Head of the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:

“We all absolutely love Alice’s illustrations, highlighting the plight of endangered species, and we can’t wait to unveil the full design to the Cambridge public on 21 March. 

“We’re also really excited to be taking part in Cambridge Standing Tall. As well as the giraffe trail promising to be a lot of fun, it’s also raising money and awareness for a fabulous charity. ARU has the second highest number of care leavers of any university in the UK, so we are very proud to be supporting Break and the important work they do.”

As part of the project, ARU has also hosted three incredible mini giraffes designed by school pupils, one of them being from our neighbouring St Matthew’s Primary School. More information about Cambridge Standing Tall can be found here: www.cambridgestandingtall.co.uk