Born Free Foundation 25th Anniversary Exhibition

At the end of her Summer Exhibition which was inspired by the remarkable conservation work carried out internationally by the Born Free Foundation, Pollyanna was proud to be able to present founder Virginia McKenna (above left) with a cheque for £12,000 on behalf of her charitable Foundation.

The donation will contribute towards the building of a new enclosure to home rescued big cats at the new Born Free Wildlife sanctuary in Ethiopia.

The money was raised through a percentage of all sales made during the Summer exhibition, tickets sold in the grand prize draw, money placed in the collection tins as well as some very generous individual donations made by visitors to the gallery.

We would especially like to thank Tettenhall Rotary club for their contribution of £400.00, and Springwell Community School for their donation of £50.00 – as well as our electrician who asked that the cost of some work carried out in the gallery prior to be exhibition be donated to the funds! The winning ticket in the raffle was drawn at the end of July, and the winners announced shortly after.

Alongside the fifty new original paintings on exhibition in the gallery, visitors also had the opportunity to buy copies of ‘The Life in My Years’ Virginia’s recently published memoirs. Virginia kindly signed a number of copies exclusively for sale during the exhibition.

Pollyanna was delighted to welcome Virginia to the gallery on the first Wednesday of the show, which was one of the official events to commemorate the Foundation’s Silver Jubilee.

She spent several hours chatting to visitors, signing additional copies of her books, and was jointly interviewed with Pollyanna by a journalist for a forthcoming article.

The special guest at the exhibition preview was Born Free’s official Poet in Residence Richard Bonfield. Since his visit, Richard has been inspired to write a poem dedicated to Pollyanna’s work.

The exhibition was also covered by Yorkshire Television who sent a camera crew out to interview Pollyanna for their Calendar news programme

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. They take action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free was founded by actress and conservationist Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travers.

Pollyanna first worked with Born Free In 1990 when she travelled to the Bhannaghatta reserve in Southern India to paint five tigers rescued from appalling conditions in a roadside circus and flown to this sanctuary by the charity. The story of her remarkable journey to find the tigers is told in the book ‘The Eye of the Tiger, for which Virginia McKenna wrote the foreword. Pollyanna has returned to her original sketches to complete a brand new series of paintings of the Born Free Tigers especially for this anniversary event. Virginia also contributed the foreword to Pollyanna’s first book Giant Pandas and Sleeping Dragons

Since then, Pollyanna has been pleased to continue to support the work of Born Free – she has painted exclusive Christmas cards for the Foundation and was delighted to join them at their 21st anniversary celebrations at the Royal Geographical Society in 2005.

The Pollyanna Pickering Foundation has also been able to contribute funding towards several of their projects, including purchasing equipment for their Orphan Polar Bear rescue project (this rescue scheme based in Canada is the only project which aims to re-release orphaned polar bears back into the wild), and providing funding for the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Project, which vaccinates this vulnerable species against rabies.

Last year Pollyanna travelled to South Africa where she visited Born Free’s Big cat sanctuary at Shamwari to sketch lions and leopards rescued from zoos, circuses and other captive facilities,now at home under the African sun. Pollyanna was delighted to meet the wonderful peopleworking with the big cats at the centre, and to see the enclosures donations from her Foundation helped to build! Her first paintings of these cats will be included in this exhibition , alongside a series of works inspired by Joy Adamson’s original books (below).

A sepia srudy inspired by the original book Born Free by Joy Adamson. Virginia McKenna and Will Travers visit Pollyanna's gallery

“For us this is a very special year. 2009 is the Born Free Foundation’s 25th Anniversary. That’s 25 years of saving lives, trying to stop cruelty, protecting species and changing attitudes. This vital work has only been possible because of your wonderful assistance, and I do thank you for sharing our charity’s dream of a better world for wild animals.”

Virginia McKenna

"The Exhibition was fantastic as I knew it would be, and I could tell from the comments of the visitors how much they enjoyed your work Pollyanna"

Virginia McKenna

“Born Free never forgets the individual. Every animal counts. Our emergency teams rescue vulnerable animals from appalling lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care at spacious sanctuaries. Born Free saves orphaned big cats, great apes and elephants and provides their food and care.”

Will Travers


The entrance to the gallery was flanked by painted Masai Warriors During the Exhibition

Pollyanna paints for the YTV cameras

Virginia wrote the foreword for 'The Eye of the Tiger' which tells the story of Pollyanna's journey to India to see five tigers rescued by the Foundation. Click here to buy securely online

Pollyanna visits Born Free projects in South Africa

Pollyanna (centre), her daughter Anna-Louise (left) and Virginia McKenna (right) co-sign copies of The Eye of the Tiger and Giant Pandas and Sleeping Dragons at a 2008 Born Free event.