Activist’s images capture attention
Seeing is believing.
And 26-year-old animal activist John Darroch wants to use that to his advantage.
The photographer’s images of a caged hen being released and piglets taking their first steps outside will be on show in the Animal Exploitation and Liberation art exhibition next week.
The event has been organised by the Auckland University Animal Rights Group and is showing at the Te Karanga Gallery on Karangahape Rd from August 4 to 8.
It is about getting the shocking images into the public eye, Darroch says.
‘‘It’s incredibly overwhelming and disturbing. I don’t think you can really get the sense of just how many animals there are or how crammed in they all are until you see it. The camera acts as a barrier between me and the animals sometimes, which is useful.
‘‘It’s going to be thoughtprovoking for people, I think.’’
Darroch vividly remembers watching a television show about a factory farm in 2004 and being horrified at what he saw. He became a vegetarian the next day.
Over the next few years he became heavily involved in animal activism and signed up to animal rights organisation Farmwatch.
The social work student studies at Auckland University’s Epsom campus and divides his spare time between working, looking after his son and taking photos for Farmwatch’s investigations.
The work includes crawling through fields and over fences in the dead of night because the farmers do not allow the Farmwatch team on their properties.
Darroch takes photos of what they find when they get inside in order to expose the conditions, he says.
The work is rewarding but it does take a psychological toll, he says.
‘‘Literally just driving around the country I see things that would just shock the meat-eating public. We’ve come across young calves with their horns chopped off and blood running down their faces.
‘‘When you start thinking about the way animals are treated and drive through the countryside with that mindset it suddenly becomes a very different place. It’s no longer this idyllic thing.’’
The exhibition aims to raise money for animal rescue organisation Helping You Help Animals New Zealand and increase awareness about the petition to reduce animal deaths on the Auckland University campus.
Auckland University Animal Rights Group leader Niccola Davies says it’s about making the public aware of animal rights in general.
Art as an expression of social justice is invaluable, she says.
‘‘We’re just trying to build a bit of a community of people who care about these issues as well.
‘‘It’s such a relevant issue at the moment and we kind of want to continue the momentum and keep people interested and caring and worried and concerned.’’
right: John Darroch uses photography to keep the conversation going around animal rights.
Animal rights: John Darroch’s photo of a caged hen being released will be included in the exhibition.