Everyone recognises the iconic WWF black and white panda logo, and charity collection boxes that used to sit in post offices and shops. Well, now some will look a lot less familiar, thanks to a group of artists and designers who have transformed 120 of them into works of art for a project called Pandamonium. The pandas, which have been brought out of retirement to highlight the urgent need to address climate change and its impact on people, wildlife and the planet, will be on show in Selfridges windows and around the shop's concept store on Oxford Street from today until the end of October.
Artists involved include Gavin Turk, Tracey Emin, Rachel Whiteread and Gary Hume, and each of their arty designs has a serious science message behind it. Tom Dixon has used alchemy to turn his panda silver, highlighting how precious endangered species have become; Adam King created No Panda is an Island to explore how all living things are interconnected, while Jane Simpson and United Visual Artists both chose to destroy their bears (Simpson with ice so it became a forgotten relic, and UVA by freezing it, then melting it, which caused it to smash – designed to show our lack of understanding about the planet).
Georgina Bridge, head of design management at WWF UK was part of the team who came up with the idea for the project. "Two years ago the panda collecting boxes were decommissioned and we were going to recycle them into garden furniture," she recalls. "Then we thought of doing something creative to raise awareness of the work that we do. We were really fortunate because all the artists we approached said 'yes' and we were staggered by how much time they've invested."
As well as featuring in a book with all the artists' designs, the pandas will be auctioned off on 12 October in Selfridges.
Pandamonium will be at Selfridges from 4 September to 28 October. For more information or to register a bid, go to www.wwf.org.uk/pandamonium