Rachel Hope Allan has given up visiting zoos.
A vivid school visit to the local meatworks when she was 7 years old introduced Rachel Hope Allan to what humankind does to animals. Since then animals have been a running theme in her life, alive and dead, domestic, wild and captive.
Now a Senior Lecturer in the Dunedin School of Art, Rachel has photographed in many zoos around the world, engaging with animals and their circumstances. This series of work culminated in an exhibition at the Robert Piggott Gallery in Dunedin in 2018, "Inbred and Spoonfed." The Otago Daily Times reviewer commented that "zoos become a form of museum with the exhibits alive but in a drawn-out dying process." A recent visit to an aquarium located on the 60th floor of a building was the last straw for Rachel, demonstrating the lengths people would go to to exhibit animals for our own purposes.
Recently Rachel has been exhibiting photographs of her own hairless cats, rescued as the rejected products of inbreeding. One has too much hair, two have genetic eye defects, one was sent back by her owners. In a labour of love Rachel tends to their high needs which are partly the result of their bred hairlessness.
Image credit: Rachel Hope Allan, used with permission