Ironically, an unusually hot, sunny afternoon broke through the bleak winter clouds as I was heading to an exhibition on climate change at Leeds Millennium Square, Spirit of The Wild, a free outdoor photographic exhibition.
Steve Bloom, an acclaimed photographer, has spent the last decade arranging, shooting, and collating this exhibit of endangered wildlife. During this time, he has travelled to some of the most remote regions on Earth, capturing images which powerfully portray the individual spirit of the animals.
The photographs are aesthetically pleasing and the colours brilliant. Vivid Wild Scarlet and Blue-Yellow Macaws, Toca Toucans and Parrots are all featured magnificently in flight, with Whooper Swans running for take off. However, Siberian Tigers are shown fighting in snow, as are pairs of sparring Polar Bears, their power intensely astute.
The photographs have been arranged so you purposely have to walk around each and every one. Their quality and clarity a tribute to Bloom's workmanship.
WWF-UK have researched and written amazing and astounding text to accompany these stunning pictures. They highlight the diversity and beauty of some of the world's most powerful creatures. Climate change is putting thousands animals at the risk of extinction. They also face risks ranging from habitat destruction and pollution, to poaching and illegal trade.
In the Information Centre, Steve Bloom documents how he put this outstanding assembly of work together. He explains how and why he felt the need to present these photographs and shows how he made it possible. The exhibition contains posters, pictures, books, not only on the contents of the exhibit, but information on how we can help prevent further damage to these animals and the environment.
As I, and many others walked, rather solemnly, around the stands specially erected for this event, the day seemed to match our moods. You could see the youth and innocence in the fresh faces of those newly arrived. Unfortunately, for those of us who had already seen the powerful images and read the information, our faces engraved with an expression of guilt and knowing. As the sun lowered for the evening and the floodlights came on, I found this gave the exhibit an strangely serene but harrowing dimension.
Spirit of the Wild is both a heart warming and soul destroying portrait of modern existence. It is a thought provoking and emotional journey that brings home the damage being caused. Each and every of us is responsible.
Steve Bloom's photography serves as a reminder that these animals are endangered and their habitats are vanishing; and of the beauty in the world, and our need to respect, protect, and preserve it. On leaving this exhibition, you will be fully informed of the damage and destruction we are causing everyday. It will make you question your choices.