Celebrity Pawtraits

Brian May with rescued badger, Harry
Brian May photographed with Harry a rescued badger moments before being returned to the wild

Anne and Natalie

**Mon 02 Jun 14**

– Photographer Maria Slough’s exhibition opens tonight – Preview will take place at London’s Cafe Royal –
Martin Clunes, Faye Ripley, Brian May and Paul O’Grady pictured with pets
– Each star has nominated a charity to benefit from the proceeds
– Photographs will set sail aboard the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship on Wednesday

2 June 2014

Who knew Brian May had a pet badger? The ex-Queen guitarist is just one of a host of celebrities who have been snapped with their beloved pets for a new exhibition. Other famous faces include Paul O’Grady, Michelle Collins, Mark Foster, Martin Clunes and Simon Callow, who have all been photographed with their beloved animals for Pawless, Maria Slough’s photography exhibition.

The exhibition opens tonight with a preview showing at London’s Cafe Royal before it sets sail for a round trip to Amsterdam aboard the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship on Wednesday.

Each celebrity has nominated a charity and the exhibition aims to raise awareness and money for various causes.

‘There were quite a few funny moments shooting this,’ London-based Maria tells MailOnline, ‘And some wonderfully inspiring ones too. When I went to photograph Simon Callow, he’d recently moved house and his dogs weren’t sure about new people,’ she says. ‘He greeted me at door with a plate of biscuits and I had to bribe my way step by step into the house. But once they were used to me the shoot worked brilliantly.’

The exhibition also includes members of public and high-profile animal charity activist Jill Robinson.

‘I went to photograph Jill in China and lived amongst rescued bears for a week, which was extraordinary,’ says Maria. ‘It was so humbling.’ So where did the idea come from? ‘I’m an avid animal lover so I wanted to use my photography to raise awareness of amazing work animal charities do and animals in need all round the globe. Telling a story within a photograph is what I strive to do in my work as a media photographer. This collection of photographs that I have been lucky enough to capture will I hope inspire people.’

Each of the stunning black and white images is accompanied by a quote from the animal lovers. Simon Callow CBE, photographed with his pooches Biffy and Roxy is supporting the Royal Veterinary College.

He says, ‘We got Biff and Rox from a farm in Wales. They adore each other, and when for medical reasons, they have to be parted the other goes into a rapid decline.

‘This was severely tested this year when Roxy, who had seemed to age overnight, was diagnosed with lung cancer and had a huge tumour removed surgically,’ he says.

‘They were apart for four days, the first time in their lives and Biffy was mortified, though Roxy rather enjoyed the five-star service at the Royal Veterinary College,’ he adds.

‘She is almost completely recovered now and wickedly playful again, rather proud of her elegantly shaved coat. Biffy can’t figure out what’s happened but his world is right again’.

Dame Eileen Atkins who is pictured with her cat Groucho says, ‘My husband Bill picked out Groucho who was the runt of the litter and I chose his very pretty tabby sister Maisie but within a few days I was in love with Groucho and Maisie had attached herself to Bill,’ she says. ‘Groucho reminds me every day that looks aren’t everything as even with one wonky eye and a huge wart on his face I think he is beautiful and love him to bits,’ she jokes.


Brian May with rescued badger, Harry
Brian May photographed with Harry a rescued badger moments before being returned to the wild

Fay Ripley refers to her pet Barry as ‘the jam in our family bakewell’. And says, ‘He adds sweetness and brings it all together. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.’

Actress Jenny Seagrove, cuddles up to a pony and says,

‘My love of animals was installed in me and nurtured by my mother. I grew up in Malaysia with dogs, rabbits and access to a baby brown bear and a baby orang-utan. That love has never left me, and of course extends to all creatures, resulting in my being founding trustee of Mane Chance Sanctuary, trustee of The Born Free Foundation and a patron of many others,’ she explains. ‘My love for the animals in our care at the sanctuary is beyond words. They have taught me about forgiveness and grace amongst other things. They are breath-taking in their presence and capacity to accept and give.’

Swimming champ Mark Foster strikes a pose with his mutt Bailey.

‘I have always had an affinity with Dogs but it wasn’t until I was nearly 30 years old that I got one of my own,’ he says. ‘He was a bulldog called George and when I picked him up as a puppy I could fit him into the palm of my hand. What I hadn’t bargained for was the bond that I formed with him and the place he had in my life and my heart. It was like a huge love affair. ‘He was the kindest and softest natured dog and I took him with me everywhere.

I took him to swimming competitions and I was amazed at what an ice breaker he was in social situations. ‘Having a dog with you invites lots of people to come up and say hello and of course he loved the attention.’

Actor Martin Clunes is featured with his horse Chester who he calls ‘our king’. ‘Chester is the first horse I ever owned and I owe him so much,’ the actor explains. ‘He is one of the nicest, kindest animals you could meet and even though he is now retired he still goes on giving, he goes out with the young horses and teaches them some respect and occasionally carries small children on his back to give them a thrill.’

Another star who admits he’s crazy about animals is chat-show host Paul O‘Grady MBE, who is photographed alongside Olga

‘I was very honoured to be asked to be a part of this exhibition. I have always been passionate about animals and am fortunate to share my life with the animals see in the photographs,’ he says. ‘I thoroughly enjoy making the TV programmes about dogs and more recently spending time in South Africa and Zambia finding out about the endangered species and the wonderful people who work to rehabilitate them and reintroduce them into the wild,’ he says. The star has nominated the Animal Health Trust to benefit from the exhibition.’Their work is so important in diagnosing and in finding new treatments and ways of preventing disease and injury for horses, dogs and cats in the UK and also across the world,’ he says.

Veteran actress Virginia McKenna, OBE, poses with a furry friend of a different kind — an enormous lion. Luckily for her, it was only made of oak!

‘When Maria first invited me to participate in her forthcoming photographic exhibition, featuring people with an animal that meant a great deal to them, I was intrigued,’ she says. ‘Then she asked if I would be photographed with a lion! The idea developed and the outcome was the most extraordinary sculpture, in fallen oak, by Simon O’Rourke, a brilliant chain saw sculptor from Wales. I call this beautiful noble beast “The Guardian” he looks out over the field and seems to protect all the wild creatures that appear there.’

Other stars featured include Michelle Collins and her shiatsu Humphrey and Brian May with a rescued badger Harry, moments before it was returned to the wild.