Sonny is a self-made street artist whose vibrant artworks aim to raise awareness about endangered animals. Culture Trip spoke to him about his To the Bone project and the inspiration behind it.
Sonny’s latest project, aptly titled To the Bone, emphasises conservation issues in countries like South Africa and aims to raise awareness about endangered species and the challenges that they face.
His artwork began with a focus on African animals, but as he wanted the message behind his work to spread far and wide he started selecting a variety of endangered animals from around the world. “This is also why I decided to paint them with native patterns from their respective countries imprinted on their exposed bones, showing how we are intricately tied to nature and all its animals. We aren’t above nature, we are nature,” he told Culture Trip.
Sonny, who was born in Britain and grew up in South Africa, is creating vibrant works of art that fuse the natural world with geometric shapes. His art, and the vital message attached to it, is spreading as far as Russia, the Netherlands and the UK. However, he never trained as an artist; painting came naturally to him. “I started painting relatively late in life, completing my first indoor mural in a friend’s band room at 23 years-old. I never studied art but could visualise what I wanted to create and so I started teaching myself the skills I needed to bring my visions to life. I’ve always been influenced by street art and graffiti, so it wasn’t long before I painted my first outdoor mural, in late 2014, and from there I was completely hooked,” he says.
Growing up on the African continent is a continuous inspiration for him, “Living in South Africa and spending time in the bush, I fell in love with the wildlife and became really concerned about the pressing issues. I was playing with the idea of creating a new body of work for a solo show and so it was a no-brainer for me to use this work to raise awareness and funds for animal welfare.”
Spreading the message
“The project came to a close with a solo exhibition in New York. It included canvas work and skull sculptures and a portion of the proceeds are donated to Project CAT. The sold-out show was a huge success, but there are still some limited edition prints of the original paintings available online at 1xRUN too.”
Sonny couldn’t be happier about the public’s reaction regarding his massive murals, “People love watching the murals come together and they always start a conversation, both in the streets and online. It’s what makes public art such a great way to spread a message. I was also overwhelmed by the response I received on the opening night of the show, there was a queue around the block to see the canvas works – it was crazy!”
Although the To the Bone project is technically complete, Sonny wishes to continue the work he’s started, “I don’t want to shut the door on the project, as I may end up doing some more murals down the line and have thought about approaching other artists to paint for the cause.”
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.