Ireland Zoo Plagiarizes American Artist
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ireland Zoo Plagiarizes American Artist
The Dublin Zoo in Ireland used the original artistic renditions of Connecticut artist Colleen Berry Conway without permission or acknowledgement on the illuminated Ogham lanterns of their 2019 Wild Lights exhibit claiming that because the Ogham alphabet is not copyrighted, artistic renditions are not protectable.
Southington, CT, January 11, 2020 -- Connecticut artist Colleen Berry Conway of Ogham Art was horrified to recently discover that exact replicas of her artistic Ogham renderings were used in the 2019 Dublin Zoo Wild Lights “Stories, Myths & Legends” festival without permission or acknowledgement. Ogham (pronounced "OH-um") is the ancient Irish alphabet deciphered from etched lines found in stones across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. After several weeks of communication between Ogham Art’s legal counsel and the counsel of the Dublin Zoo, the consistent response was that the Ogham alphabet can not be copyrighted and therefore, any artistic rendering is not protectable.
While Ms. Conway and her counsel agree that the ancient Irish alphabet of Ogham is not protectable, it is undeniable that a unique and aesthetic painting style is not to be copied without consent. Despite providing irrefutable proof that the lanterns are identical copies of Ms. Conway’s brushstrokes, the zoo maintains that the lanterns are different in their depiction of the alphabet and refuse credit or recognition.
Comparison photos of all eight (8) lanterns can be viewed at www.oghamart.com/pages/dublinzoowildlights2019
One area of the 2019 Wild Lights exhibit pairs illuminated depictions of Irish myths and legends along with eight (8) illuminated Ogham stone lanterns. While appropriately depicting these two significant chapters in Irish history, the Ogham renderings used on the lanterns are exact replicas of the original aesthetic mark of an Ogham artist used without permission, credit or remuneration. The exhibit dates are November 1, 2019 through January 12, 2020.
The theft of original designs is a constant struggle for artists around the world. From Disney to Dubai, original art is used without permission, depriving artists of the deserved recognition earned through years of learning technique, developing skills and creating a branded mark. “What should have been an absolute honor has turned into a crippling blow to my art,” said Ms. Conway. “The Dublin Zoo found my Ogham paintings beautiful enough to feature in their exhibit but denied me the opportunity to celebrate such an achievement by refusing to request permission or acknowledge my contribution.”The Dublin Zoo has admirably contributed to “the conservation of bio-diversity on earth” for 150 years. (Source: https://www.dublinzoo.ie/about/) They are obligated as the largest attraction in Ireland to uphold moral standards, with wildlife and beyond. The integrity of their conservation projects should be extended to any and all exhibits seen by their one million annual visitors, including their Wild Lights experience.
Ms. Conway has added a page to her website, OghamArt.com, to further defend her rights as an artist whose work was used without permission and to document the scope of the zoo's plagiarism www.oghamart.com/pages/dublinzoowildlights2019. This page includes comparison photos of all eight (8) lanterns featuring her artwork and links to other Ogham artists’ websites to emphasize the art form's diversity and to encourage support of all small artists. She has launched a full campaign for public support to force the Dublin Zoo to acknowledge the creative aspects of the art form of Ogham in general and her artistic contribution featured in the 2019 Wild Lights Ogham installation. The initial stages of the campaign have shown an overwhelming response of outrage at the zoo’s actions and public support for artists’ rights.
Excerpts from emails & social media posts sent directly to the Dublin Zoo that have not received any replies or comments from the zoo as of Jan. 11:
Since 2010, Colleen and Chris Conway of Ogham Art have dedicated themselves to the hidden corners of Irish history and are committed to presenting and preserving the Ogham alphabet in unique presentations. In addition to creating original art, jewelry, home decor, and custom designs, the Conways offer lectures and workshops on the origins of the Ogham alphabet. They are recognized and respected through years of appearances at artisan marketplaces and Irish/Celtic festivals from Maine to Maryland as well as digital and print media (including CT Post, Connecticut Magazine, and Irish America Magazine), and on radio and television (NPR - WSHU, SiriusXM, Better Connecticut, NYBERG, and Good Morning Connecticut). As active members of the Irish-American community with connections to the Irish diaspora worldwide, they have organically gained over 10,000 fans and followers on social media.