Vegetarian Artist to Eat a Whole Cow for Charity

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British artist Damian Hurst famously pickled whole animals. Now, a Portuguese vegan artist from Glasgow School of Fine Art has arranged an installation that will encourage members of the public to eat a whole cow. But is it art?

25 year old artist Zoe Birrell’s work is featured as part of Glasgow School of Arts’ Degree Show -- An annual exhibition of final year work from Fine Art, Architecture and Design.

The Times Newspaper and the Independent Newspaper have both chosen Glasgow School of Arts’ Degree show as the best Art show to visit in Scotland.

The Times said: "This is the best opportunity to discover artists before their reputations and prices soar the Independent described the event as ‘one of the 'best degree shows' outside of London."

Vegetarian since the age of 14 and a Vegan for the last 5 years Zoe decided to explore the issues of intensively farmed animals related to her own femininity. The life of the modern dairy cow, kept perpetually pregnant and thus full of hormones whilst suffering the emotional stress of loss of her baby calf inspired Zoe to focus on these psychological and physiological issues and the ethical alternatives.

Zoe has cast her own body weight of delicious dairy free vegan chocolate, donated by Plamil Foods, into a herd of 420 chocolate cows, 300 of which the public will be invited to purchase and eat.

It’s hoped the money raised will go to a animal sanctuary such as Hillside where they can save the life of a dairy cow (who typically have a working life of only 2-5 years) or a male calf destined for the veal crates of Europe or catfood.

There will be a small booklet that accompanies the exhibition and discusses some of the wider issues relating to human health and nutrition and environmental concerns raised by treating animals the way we do.

The Exhibition at The Mackintosh building in Renfrew street is open to the public every day from 10 am to 9 pm until June 25th.

Editor’s Notes

For More Info Re Artist and pictures contact Tony Bishop-Weston Tel 07944068432

Dairy Free Vegan chocolate sponsored by


Glasgow School Of Art, Mackintosh Gallery, 167 Renfrew Street

Glasgow Lanarkshire G3 6RQ –

0141 353 4500 -
From Jun 17, Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 10am-2pm, ends Jun 24 2006 Entrance - Free

Artist's Statement

A model of a dairy herd made from organic vegan chocolate composes the main body of this work. Each cow is a solid cast made out of 87% cocoa chocolate produced by a vegan company (in which no animal ingredients are ever used). The cocoa's from a fairtrade scheme in the Dominican Republic that pays particular attention to women's rights. The number of cows in this herd is defined by my own body weight (53kg) as this is the amount of chocolate being used for the casts. This makes a total of roughly 480 cows. Some of these will be used in an installation but the majority of them have been packaged as consumer goods and will be sold individually. All these cows have been made in a food safe environment and are intended for consumption. The funds raised from selling these model cows will be divided into two part: the first will be used to rescue and re-home a calve (who would be considered surplus and put down) from the dairy industry and find it a suitable and safe home to live in, the second half will be used to fund similar projects in the future. All the packaging used is, as far as possible, eco friendly. The installation space used a series of alternative ways of refrigeration in order to create an adequate storage environment for the chocolate.

At the core of this project there is a desire to look at the way we perceive and engage with ourselves, and other around us in the society we live in, be these human or non-human animals. I am also looking at how this affects the environment we live in. My role and place as an individual in this equation is manifest by my body weight defining the size of the herd. The fact that I am a woman and I am creating an entirely female herd is not a coincidence as this herd is the result of the exploitation of another animals’ sexuality. The use of fairtrade organic vegan chocolate is specific in that it highlights how our consumer habits affect the rest of the world. The use of ecological and sustainable alternative refrigeration systems is a reflection of the effects of cattle farming on the release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. This work came about as a culmination of the collision of my love for other animals and art. It is the fruit of research, practice and education in both these fields.

Artist who interest me and have in some way influenced this work are people like Sue Coe, Janine Antoni, and Jethro Brice. Sue Coe’s prints intrigue me in that she is one of the few artists who used nonhuman animals in her work in a direct reference to themselves and welfare concerns surrounding them. In all my studies I have found that there are a lot of nonhuman animals in art but a very limited amount of art about nonhumans. Janine Antoni interests me in her use of consumables such as chocolate and lard to relate to herself. Jethro Brice’s work interests me in his engagement in the environment that surrounds us and almost his obsessive concern in making work from sustainable materials that have been recycled from the world around him.

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