Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

'Sad eyes' highlight apes' plight

Artist Jacha Potgieter with his ape paintings

An artist is selling large-scale paintings of orang-utans to raise funds for an ape sanctuary.

Jacha Potgieter said he wanted to use his skills to highlight the plight of the apes he helped on a recent volunteering trip to Borneo, Indonesia.

The 12 oil-on-canvas works measuring 1.5 metres (4ft) by 1.2 (3.5ft) feature facial close-ups showing the creatures' "sad" eyes.

The work can be seen at the Alpine Coffee Shop at Betws y Coed, Conwy.

"I wanted to get to people's emotions by featuring the eyes, because some of the orang-utans had very sad eyes," said Mr Potgieter, who lives in the Conwy valley.

'Habitat'

"If you make a painting it needs to hit people, to make an emotional connection."

The artist, who is based at Betws y Coed in Conwy, worked for six weeks in Borneo on a conservation volunteer programme run by the Orangutan foundation.

"For me, I hate cruelty against animals or children, and I used to do conservation work," he said.

"Then I studied art so I could use my skill to make people aware of what is being done - as the orang-utans habitat is being destroyed. It's my contribution," he added.

Mr Potgieter, who is originally from South Africa, moved to Betws y Coed after meeting and falling in love with a local woman, on a trip to Budapest.

Of his adopted home he said: "It rains a lot, but I always say there is a price to pay for beauty, and I love Wales."

Three of the large paintings, along with photographs of the trip are on show at the Alpine Coffee Shop in Betws y Coed until 3 December.

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