Combining a love of animals and dance to combat cruelty

by James Hendicott
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A Dublin-born artist has combined his love of animals and dance music to raise more than $100,000 for an animal-rights charity, Music Against Animal Cruelty (MAAC).

The unusual but cleverly of-the-moment charity will make a six-figure sum towards their cause as a result of a sale that mixed Robyn Ward’s art with the heady island beats of Ibiza.

Ward’s featured art heavily features various rare animals, often mixed with an unnatural environment.

Ward, who says he often listens to house music while producing his striking artwork, took more than five years from concept to completion to create the charitable ‘Plastic Nation’ series.

It depicts animals and man-made objects, designed in part to make us think about our interaction with our environment.

Ward’s clearly passionate about his environmental leanings, saying: “Music is a huge part of my life, so this route made sense to me.

“The music I listen to when I work ranges from Reggae to Rock, House to Classical, and it seems to settle into the mood of the piece I’m working on.

“MAAC ticks a lot of boxes for me. I’m worried about things like the disappearance of snow leopards, mountain gorillas, the illegal trade of animals, bees dying off. With MAAC, I know where the money goes.

“With dance, it’s not really a lyric-based protest, but it is a platform. The real question is whether you can use a platform to bring people in and get to your message.

“When you bring in people, great DJs, they play and then shut down for a talk on MAAC, it raises awareness.”

Ward’s really significant financial contribution is a huge dedication, essentially handing over years of work to charitable causes, yet the work – pictured alongside this article – seems to make the move logical a well as generous.

The sale event, which took place in Ibiza in October, featured special musical guests alongside the sale.

“There are definitely pieces I don’t want to let go,” Ward admits of saying goodbye to his latest output, “but there is something about them being in a great collection, too.

“When I spend so much time on a piece it is kind of a part of me. I’m exploring society in my own language.

“From a very young age I had a real passion for animals and animal welfare. For me it’s a really big thing to raise awareness.

“Each piece probably took about 110-120 hours to produce. I tend to think in the very long-term with my projects, in five-year blocks.

“I have a notebook full of ideas and references, and I’ve picked out my next long-term project.

“We live in the age of everything being about ‘now’, always being at hand. People have a real social awareness, even when they’re very young, about what they have and don’t have.

“It’s really great to see people prepared to stand up and talk about what I think really matters, and that’s why I relate to MAAC.

“Some animal cruelty is appalling, and I’m just so happy to be able to show a video of some causes, make a bit of an impact and hand over some money.”

Robyn Ward divides his time between Ireland and Ibiza, as well as traveling internationally. MAAC typically focuses on interactive experiences such as Ward’s sale, as well as examining the global issues that threaten our planet’s wildlife.

They do so while exploring how musicians can serve as a catalyst for change.

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