Snow Leopard

Serena de la Hey with Grand Challenges students


Snow Leopard




Location: Central Patio, Streatham Court, Streatham Campus


This sculpture was created by Serena de la Hay with a group of University of Exeter undergraduate students, in the week 2 - 6 June 2014.  It was created as part of Grand Challenges,an initiative in which students undertake projects which address challenges for the 21st century.  This particular group of students focussed on the challenge, "What sort of earth do we want for our children?".

The artistic statement below comes from the students who created the work with Serena de la Hay:
"This willow sculpture represents a snow leopard, an endangered species of large cat originating from Asia. Approximately 4,000 snow leopards are left in the wilderness, due to habitat loss, legal hunting and poaching, which all endanger the diversity of our world.

The statue is meant to be both an embodiment of the Grand Challenge Earth Tomorrow and serve as a constant reminder of the problems the natural world faces regarding conservation. The statue tries to reflect the beauty of the leopard, its deadly grace. Using willow for it is also a meaningful choice – while it is Serena de la Hey’s usual choice of material, willow branches, even after being cut down, can flourish again, as we hope the leopard species will once more.

Serena de la Hey is a modern innovator and is well known for her willow sculptures. Serena has been involved in many different projects all over the world such as the Willow Horse in 2004 or the Metaphors in 1993. However, her most well-known work must be her 12 metre sculpture next to the M5 motorway in Somerset.

Serena is currently assisting the University of Exeter’s undergraduate project called Grand Challenges, which focuses on discussing some of the most pressing social, political and environmental issues which face the world today. She is helping the “Earth Tomorrow” group which concentrates on modern global conservation dilemmas, to design and create a sculpture to commemorate the work we have done this week. A small group of us sculpted a snow leopard out of willow. The snow leopard is a relevant animal because it is an endangered species.

In the first stages of production, we used thicker pieces of willow to create the basic skeleton of the animal. Once the structural core of the body had been created, we built up the body with circles of willow to create a generic shape. On the final day, we used more circles of even thinner pieces of willow to cover this basic structure, and to create the head of the snow leopard. Our aim was to create a striking animal which reminds fellow students and staff of the pertinent issues we raised during Grand Challenges, which we hope we have succeeded in doing."

Click here for a picture gallery and presentation of the making of the sculpture

Find out more about Serena de la Hay here

Location of sculpture

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