Artists We Love: Sonny

WORDS Celeste Jacobs IMAGES Tessa Cunliffe (all Corridors of Hope images)

As a self-taught artist, Sonny found himself gravitating towards creating murals from the get-go. His work can be seen around the world, from Miami to Grenoble, and of course, across South Africa. Sonny’s latest creation, Corridors of Hope, was made in collaboration with IPAF, run by the NPO BazArt, and takes up space in the streets of Woodstock, Cape Town. We chatted to him about this new work, and more.

Tell us more about the IPAF mural, Corridors of Hope.

I painted it as a way to open up conversations around the positive steps that are being taken in terms of conservation through the use of “wildlife corridors” that merge large areas of protected land together.

How did it come about?

IPAF is an annual street art festival run by a non-profit organisation called BazArt, and their theme for this year was “100% Sustainable”, so I jumped on board as it aligns with the messaging in my work.

Why does Corridors of Hope stand out to you?

The mural is a symbol of hope for the conservation of wildlife, something that is very dear to me and a topic I explore a lot through my work.

I first started hearing about these corridors being implemented in the US and Canada to help connect populations of wolves, bears and cougars, after their successful use in India to support tiger populations. I then heard about it being implemented in South Africa by organisations such as the Wild Tomorrow Fund, which was exciting.

Now there are plans in place for the same system to be implemented in the Western Cape to help protect the local leopard populations. This approach has also led to private game farm owners in South Africa dropping their fences and dedicating their lands to conservation.

This is a dream that I’ve had for many years and it gives me so much hope for all of nature, including ourselves. The leopard became a symbol for me that things were changing for a more sustainable future where humans and nature can coexist.

What do you hope people feel when they see it?

I always want people to feel a sense of beauty, power and the importance that these creatures bring to the world. At face value I hope I achieve that. But from there my hope is that people are inspired to follow the breadcrumbs to learn more about the message behind the artwork and discover how these animals are under threat and why we need more sustainable solutions to help protect them from our manmade impacts that are leading to their extinction.

What are you looking forward to next?

Over the past eight months I’ve secretly been hard at work on new body of work that is a bit different from what people may expect from me. Without being able to travel for projects, I’ve taken the time to focus on working with new mediums and on things I’ve been wanting to for a long time. I’m really excited to release this new series in 2021. Stay tuned.

Keep up with the latest from Sonny on Instagram.