Tag Archives: Story Book Farm

Beyond The Brush: Who Is Pockets Warhol, The Painting Monkey?

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Beyond The Brush:  Who Is Pockets Warhol, The Painting Monkey?

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau (with contributions from Charmaine Quinn)

Last year I received an original painting by internationally acclaimed capuchin artist and philanthropist, Pockets Warhol, who is helping to raise awareness  for Story Book Farm Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario.  Story Book is currently running an urgent campaign to raise funds for a new location for 20 primates.  Charmaine Quinn is also famous for being a muse to Pockets’, who is the subject of this Q&A.   She works in Toronto and donates all her spare time to helping animals in need. Her weekends are spent at Story Book Farm as well as volunteering as an exhibit interpreter for the orangutans at the Toronto Zoo. Charmaine also volunteers at a therapeutic horse riding facility helping special needs children and adults.

Pockets 2Charmaine is the Board of Directors secretary for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation led by Dr. Anne Russon (York University) and since 2006 has been spending two months a year at an Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo helping orphaned and ex-captive orangutans in their Forest School System.  Charmaine has been honoured with the title of Canadian Orangutan Ambassador by Orangutan Appeal UK.  An extensive traveller,  Charmaine also manages to give her time to Wildtracks in Belize, where she provides care for spider monkeys, howler monkeys,  as well as manatees! When not volunteering, Charmaine is spending time with her rescued pets – two dogs and two cats, as well as playing classical flute, drawing and sculpting.  So here’s 10 questions for Charmaine about her work with Pockets….

(Heather) How did Pockets come to arrive at the sanctuary and how long has he been painting? What other types of enrichment does he enjoy?

(Charmaine) Pockets arrived about 5 years ago as a former pet in B.C. and he has been happily painting abstract pieces of art for the past 3 years. I noticed a similarity between Andy Warhol and Pockets so I attached the Warhol name which launched him into becoming a viral sensation when people saw his magnificent pieces of work. Pockets enjoys his painting sessions which would be similar to a child doing painting. It comes from a pure heart and pure mind. Pockets loves playing with his dinosaurs, stuffed toys and play ball. He definitely has a sense of wonder about him.

(Heather) Pockets took to painting fairly easily,  but this isn’t true of other monkeys you have at the sanctuary.  To what do you attribute Pockets’ interest in painting,  over some of the other primates?

(Charmaine) Pockets seemed to take to painting quite naturally as do some humans. Other primates in sanctuary settings also enjoy this as part of their enrichment. Pockets is a capuchin monkey Pockets 1and they are known for their high intelligence so it is no surprise to me that he is able to be very creative.

(Heather) Your relationship with Pockets seems especially close.  Would he paint as well if I handed him a canvas and paints?  Or does he prefer to work with you or some of the other caregivers?

(Charmaine) Pockets feels most comfortable with me during the painting process as we have formed a special friendship since he arrived and moreso after introducing him to the paints. Other caregivers have tried to paint with him, but they have not been very successful. He looks at our time together as fun and happy when he is painting as one can see in his work.

(Heather) You tried to interest another capuchin, Cheeko, in painting – how did that turn out?  I guess the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” doesn’t necessarily apply here….

(Charmaine) I have offered paints to other monkeys but they seem to have no interest and prefer to focus on other types of enrichment, like puzzles, toys, mirrors, etc.

(Heather) My Pockets painting has little bits of straw or wood chips in it. The little finger and hand prints are so adorable. Does Pockets like to incorporate any other “found objects” in his painting?

(Charmaine) Pockets uses his hands and feet to move around the paint and often little bits of straw are incorporated in these paintings as they are part of his enclosure which create an interesting look to the paintings. Sometimes he uses his tongue as a brush or takes other objects in his enclosure to push around the paint.

Charmaine and orang(Heather) How easily does Pockets clean up after a painting session?  It’s non-toxic children’s paint,  but how do you get him paint-free?

(Charmaine) I do use children’s paints as it has to be safe for him because he sometimes does put this in his mouth as a child would do. At the end of the sessions, I use baby shampoo and warm water to clean his hands, feet and tail and face. Pockets seems to understand this process of cleaning up after the painting is complete.

(Heather) Sometimes capuchins are used as service monkeys in other countries.  But they,  along with other species of monkeys don’t make good pets. Most of the primates at Story Book are very high energy and Pockets is quite the little busybody – what other attributes do they have that make them very difficult pets?

(Charmaine) Primates share many human traits and people often feel they would make good companions, but they are wild and unpredictable by nature as well as extremely strong. The cruel exotic animal trade is rampant and fueled by humans and this never ends well for the primate of choice unless they are fortunate enough to end up in a sanctuary setting.

(Heather) How has your life been impacted by Pockets specifically?  Aside from the fact that sometimes both your hairstyles resemble Andy Warhol…..

(Charmaine) Pockets has indirectly changed my life in the most positive manner and think he has brought much happiness to others as well with his artwork and his funny little character and I feel Pockets 3very flattered when people see that we share the same hairstyle!  He is very special to me because he loves to have fun and he has a sense of humor. Pockets keeps me motivated to help continue my volunteer work abroad with orangutans and monkeys and protect their environment for future generations.

(Heather) Has Pockets’ fame gone to his head?  How do you keep him grounded?

(Charmaine) Pockets is a little spoiled but he manages to keep himself grounded with a little help from me!

(Heather) Does Pockets have any upcoming exhibitions?

(Charmaine) I am hoping to continue more art shows and have been approached by Sadie’s Diner who were the original hosts of the first show. He has had a couple of art shows in Helsinki, one being at the Helsinki Museum, another at the Museo Apparente in Naples where he was part of an art show with other animals and many in Toronto. Pockets is listed as number 8 animal artist in the world and I am very proud of all his artwork which has created fundraising to help his primate friends at the sanctuary and has created many conversations about their intelligence and hopefully will make people think about protecting primates as they are very much like us in many ways, but are born to be wild.

 

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Darwin’s Dream – Passionate About Primate Protection

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darwintextWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photography © Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary

DarwinsdreamStory Book Farm is one of only two primate sanctuaries in Canada that can care for nonhuman primates who are rejected by their owners or are cast-offs from the biomedical trade. A primate sanctuary is not a zoo. Sanctuaries are dedicated to giving nonhuman primates and other exotic animals a high quality of life via enrichment but without unnecessary human interference.

Founded in 2000, the Sanctuary is of course most famous for caring for Darwin the “IKEA monkey” for the last two years, after Toronto animal services seized him from his owner, Yasmin Nakhuda. Nakhuda later sued the sanctuary to get him back, but her lawsuit ultimately failed. For approximately two years, while awaiting the trial outcome, the Sanctuary and its volunteers and supporters were subjected to a campaign of regular harassment via social media.

Start the Car – The IKEA Monkey Trial Gets Ugly

The sanctuary hopes to raise $490,000 online through its Darwin’s Dream crowdfunding campaign to relocate the primates in its care to the site of the former Northwood Zoo in Seagrave, on the western side of Lake Scugog. Northwood, for sale for nearly $1,000,000, is set on 22 hectares with treed enclosures, buildings for volunteers to reside as well as the opportunity for a vet clinic. Included is an existing population of about 20 primates, including two younger macaques who could form a family troop with Darwin.

Please consider a donation for the purchase of the Northwood Zoo and the continuing care of the primates – support #Darwinsdream Indiegogo campaign

Darwin Funding Breakdown

In addition to Darwin, Pockets Warhol is another famous resident. The adorable capuchin monkey is something of an art sensation in the animal world, using children’s paints to create abstract splashes reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s work.

High-profile stories of exotic or unusual pets either escaping or being set free by their owners are nothing new. And a high percentage of exotic animals die within the first year, assuming that they Story Book Farm 4survive their way to the consumer at all. Despite often having good intentions, many owners just don’t know how to provide quality care. There is a thriving exotic animal trade in Canada —involving everything from constrictors to tigers – the Tiger Paw “Odd and Unusual” auction currently held in Orangeville, features exotic farm animals, primates, and even zebras. Anyone willing to pay the price for these animals is free to take them away, no questions asked. Some of these animals will either die or be rejected by their new owners. Monkeys are less than ideal pets – monkeys that are cute in their infantile stages grow into highly intelligent wild adults who are physically strong and can be aggressive – they often outlive their owners as a result of having life spans that are longer than most traditional domesticated pets. Monkeys kept as private pets are usually forced to wear diapers for their entire lives, while the monkeys at Story Book live as naturalistically as possible

Story Book Volunteers and Board of Directors – a strong history of governance, animal welfare, volunteerism, and social justice.

There are only a patchwork of bylaws to deal with exotics ownership, since a cohesive exotic animal policy does not exist in Canada. Animal welfare groups and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies call for stronger provincial laws to limit or ban the import and sale of exotic species, believing that a ban on those practices is the ideal legal scenario right across the country – the only exceptions being zoos and sanctuaries. Darwin’s case has served to highlight the fact that he is not just a meme,  an IKEA monkey, but a macaque capable of living to his fullest potential in a more natural environment.  We need to educate others and create awareness of illegal pets who need to live their lives as non-human primates. Bravo to Story Book Farm and their volunteers!