Chhimi Dema

A tiger standing ferociously with its black strips at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s open-air Tiger Trail exhibition in Singapore is no ordinary tiger.

It is the tiger that represents the dwindling numbers of tiger population and calls for the world to conserve the animal.

A Bhutanese contemporary artist, Zimbiri, sculpted the tiger.

Zimbiri was selected amongst 43 other international artists to display her work in the exhibition.

“The tiger piece represents my gratitude for these beautiful beasts. They have been a great source of inspiration for my work and their independent and confident nature has given me a great deal to contemplate how I see myself,” she said.

She added that the sculpture was a wish and prayer for the survival of tigers. “If their dwindling population is not addressed, they may very well be on their way to becoming beasts of myth, found only in inanimate replication and stories of ‘once upon a times’.”

WWF Tiger Trail 2022 is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of the tiger’s role in mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity.

The trail features more than 30 life-sized tiger sculptures and unique tiger inspired pieces. The artworks will be on display until April 9.

Zimbiri’s tiger sculpture was painted using satshen (natural soil colours) to infuse Bhutanese culture in her work.

“The strips peeling from the tiger’s body symbolise the fading tiger population and its risk of becoming extinct if there are no conservation plans,” Zimbiri said. “I am truly blessed to have been born in Bhutan, and take great pride in creating works that are inspired by our rich and beautiful culture.”

She had her first exhibition in 2015 followed by a show at Nature more, a leading gallery in New Delhi in 2016. In 2020, she exhibited her works at Grosvenor Gallery in London.

Zimbiri said that her journey to reach this platform was wonderful, exciting, nerve-wracking, getting out of her comfort zone, learning on the go and a lot of work. “All we can do as artists is to work and grow, create pieces that feel true to who we are, take every opportunity we can, and hope that with a little luck and a lot of hard work we can be seen.”