I could hardly believe it when I discovered that two of my greatest loves – contemporary art and dogs – would be uniting for one very special event: the world’s first contemporary art exhibition designed for dogs! Commissioned as part of MORE TH>N’s #Playmore campaign, the ambition of the exhibition was to raise awareness about the importance of mental stimulation and physical playfulness to the overall health and wellbeing of our precious pooches.
Artist, designer and inventor, Dominic Wilcox, created several interactive artworks, each based on activities that dogs enjoy and sensory input that their unique canine sensorial spectrum enables them to experience. Wilcox sought input from veterinary experts to aid his understanding of the stimuli, both mental and physical, that are most seductive and beneficial to dogs. Canines rely heavily on their olfactory and auditory senses to help them discover and delight in the world; visually they have a much lower resolution than humans and are limited to seeing only a reduced palette of greys, blues and yellows. A dog’s vision is quite blurred and lacks the ability to distinguish shades outside of their restricted colour range. Wilcox’s multi-sensorial, interactive installations, as well as the series of paintings by other British artists (Clare Mallison, Michelle Thompson, Nick White, Robert Nicol and Paul Blow) only utilise colours that can be perceived within a dog’s visual spectrum, and have been thoughtfully positioned low to the ground to capture canine viewers/participants.
“Contemporary art has long been an important source of inspiration and fascination for humans, but never before has it been created with a view to drawing the same kind of emotions out of animals,” says Wilcox. “While it’s certainly one of the more interesting challenges I’ve faced in my career, it feels great to have created such a truly unique collection of interactive artworks for a completely new audience.”
In addition to presenting a body of work for both humans and dogs to delight in, this exhibition also serves as a fundraiser for the RSPCA. For every human who pledges to play with their four-legged best friend for more than 15 minutes a day, MORE TH>N will donate £1 to the RSPCA.
The #PlayMore Dog Exhibition was open 19-20 August at 47/49 Tanner Street, Bermondsey, London.