Anita Jeram is a celebrated children's book illustrator, best-known for her work on the hit title Guess How Much I Love You. Excitingly, she's created a series of drawings to help us End the Cage Age. Here, we talk art and animal welfare with Anita.
Over her 24-year career, Anita Jeram has brought to life some of literature’s best-loved animal characters. With an enviable portfolio that includes some of the most celebrated picture books of all time – from the bestselling Guess How Much I Love You to a variety of Dick King-Smith titles – she’s an artist whose work has almost certainly touched your life in some way.
And it’s about to do so again, because Anita has generously created a series of four unique rabbit-focused illustrations in a show of support for our End the Cage Age campaign.
“Life should be an adventure”
In these drawings, there is a stark contrast between sad-eyed rabbits in cages and bouncing bunnies who are free to hop, skip and jump.
Enchanting, evocative and – for some – intensely moving, these pieces reveal Anita’s compassion for animals and her unwavering conviction about what is fair and what is “cruel” and “inhumane” when it comes to animal husbandry.
“You don't have to be an expert to know what is right or wrong”, says the artist. “Sometimes your heart tells you, and you have to go with your instincts. Mine tells me that cage farming of rabbits is going too far.”
Anita lives on a smallholding in Northern Ireland with her husband, three children and a menagerie of animals, which includes chickens, ducks, cats, dogs, rabbits, toads, a lizard, a snake and a tortoise.
And while she can rest easy knowing that her family is able to enjoy eggs from their own birds – who “have a good, happy life” – she is routinely “upset” by images of battery hens and has, for a long time, yearned to do more to create widespread change.
We’re very proud that Anita has chosen to make a stand by creating these four poignant illustrations, with their catchy slogans, especially for our campaign.
Drawing the future
As for any artist with principles, Anita’s creations offer her a way to express her beliefs and attempt to redress injustice in society. She used to be quite radical, she tells us, but has mellowed over the years, opting for the silent power of her pencil.
“When I was younger, I was more of an activist”, she says. “But these days, if I have something to say, a pencil can be just as effective.”
When asked if art can change the world, Anita replies concisely: “One mind at a time.” And why shouldn’t drawings help to rally the public in the same way that words so often do? The answer is that they can and they should – especially when they communicate so serious a message as effortlessly as Anita’s do.
The artist hopes that her stunning work will alert people to the harsh realities of Europe’s factory farming of rabbits, ultimately making a difference to the lives of animals everywhere: “You can't object to something if you don't know it happens”, she asserts.
We’re hugely grateful to Anita for contributing these exquisitely powerful images. Not only will they get people talking about the crazy reality that is rabbit factory farming, but also encourage people to sign our petition to help end caged-rabbit farming for good. If you haven’t already signed our petition, you can still do so here.
#LifeShouldBeAnAdventure! We know so, Anita knows so...do you know so? Join our campaign to end the cage farming of rabbits in Europe, and keep your ear to the ground for our Easter Bunny activity on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter this coming weekend.