Artist Notes: This picture was painted as an emotional response to the factual reality of every day cattle markets in the U.K. that deal in the sale of calves, cows and bulls on a daily basis. Buying and selling these lives without emotion or any care for the well-being of the animal, beyond that which will keep ‘the commodity’ in a good enough condition to produce young and, therefore, milk. By focussing on the individual faces of this ‘commodity’ I hoped to bring to light the true nature of their suffering by encouraging the viewer to empathise with these sentient creatures – creatures that we, as a society, allow to be imprisoned, forcibly impregnated, tortured for years and have their babies taken from them, and all to fulfil a perceived ‘need’ for a substance that is neither healthy nor ethical.
Although this particular composition is imaginary, the scenario is not. The cows press their faces through the bars, eager for contact with animal or human alike, whilst remaining ignorant of their fate as they wait in their stalls.
All the faces are from current cattle markets in the U.K. as of May 2015, from photographs taken by my Viva! colleagues (www.viva.org.uk). No individual faces have been altered in any way.