“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead Late last year, at the same time the Presidential election results shook the nation, the majestic Laysan albatross started returning to Kaua‘i. They dropped their spatula-like feet and touched […]
In the face of climate change, globalisation, war and overpopulation, animals are under greater threat than ever before. However, in 2017 we are in a better position than ever to protect and conserve them. Conservation has never been easier than it is in the 21st Century: we have social media, email, worldwide broadcasting and many other forms of media to share stories of struggling species, but also to share success stories and to encourage people and communities to work together.
For me, art is just an extension of this means to spread the word of conservation and its importance. David Attenborough and Jane Goodall, Richard Leakey and Peter Singer (to name just a few) each have their own unique platform, presenting to use conservation not necessarily through heart-wrenching images of suffering or tragic tales of failure, but through provoking in us a sense of awe, wonder and hope.
For just one example, read about Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Programme, a marvelous initiative helping communities to learn about the environment, and actively participate in it.
For me, art is conservation, Through paintings of rare and unique animal species and presenting them at exhibitions, showcasing them online and turning them into wonderful stationery and household products, wildlife is taking centre stage in a medium previously reserved for landscapes or religion. Beautiful paintings, just like those of Franz Marc, or those that I myself am painting, give us a unique insight into the world, and encourage us to care.
Through the promotion and sales of such paintings, we can also actively participate in conservation projects, through donating a percentage of sales and commissions to worthy conservation projects. It is your choice. This is why I paint, to inspire, to conserve.
Art Inspired by Nature – this is my passion project
Ps put this on while reading:
“Metaphysics must flourish. He who understand baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.” Charles Darwin
The seemingly irreverent, joking quote of Darwin rang incessantly through my mind as I watched the whole of BBC’s Planet Earth II series from beginning until last Sunday’s Desert episode. It’s a phrase of surprising importance, depth and profundity from the founder of modern biology. It speaks of something few people understand. Neither the lay people that think that an interest in nature is a hippie, far-out discipline. Nor do the nature-loving hippies, those ragged political animals themselves seem to understand.
It’s a fact I am constantly reminded of whenever I hear Sir David Attenborough’s soothing, intellectual voice: the study of nature is the most profound and noble pursuit available to a thinking man. From it stem all the other great achievements of our species. And when you…
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The world is quite literally on our doorstep. Thanks to globalisation, immigration, airline travel and our amplified imagination, almost every corner of the world has been discovered, trampled on, and had a selfie taken with it.
Yet there are still places in the world that most of us have never heard of. Species we’ve never heard of; a habitat we never knew existed. What is even more surprising and sobering, is that some of these species could be gone before we even realise they were ever there.
A prime example is the saola, affectionately known as the Asian unicorn, an animal as legendary as its name implies. The saola is only as old as I am (in terms of its exposure, having only been discovered officially in 1992), but already it is facing severe pressures. Its evergreen forest habitat sits caged in from all sides, hemmed-in by the Annamite mountains, along the borders of Vietnam and Laos. The saola is unfortunate enough to be caught between two extremely industrialised and developing countries, and it faces habitat destruction, which people to exploit to hunt for food, traditional medicine and more.
“Only recently discovered, saola are already extremely threatened. At a time when species extinction on the planet has accelerated, we can work together to snatch this one back from the edge of extinction.”
Dr. Barney Long, WWF Asian species expert
No forest is too far away for us to ignore any longer.
Away from the tiger.
A kangaroo’s gait
Without a kangaroo’s legs.
Without a pack.An opossum’s posture
Away from the Americas.
A marsupial’s pouch
Without God’s grace!
Pacing up and down
The cage of clowns
A Tasmanian tiger awaits
The leap of extinction.
Man will weep salt
Where once he exhaled saltpeter.
Howl pierced by the rifle-shot,
Like a star crashing into the moon.
The darkness of new wilderness
Brought not the songs of bonfire,
But the fear of tamed convicts
And their silhouettes of cancerous sheep.
And there is a fear that will not sleep. A fear wed to the chanting monks on the streets of ancient Europa, where all of man’s kingdom is bathed in (stolen) light. I could never feel the heartbeat of death as plainly as when I looked into those living, haunted, dead eyes, the black-and-white prisoners of the camera’s imagining of that mercy seat. I can’t forgive anymore, I’ve lost that Christian fox in the hole of my inner being. There are too many guns drowning out the once promised choirs.
Free the human animal from its cages of myrrh, gold and musk. The gifts that elevated our gaze upwards, making the earth a dark, crawling desert teeming with the misunderstood. To drink the blood of communion is to hunger for the blood of the hunt. A hunt without equals, as that between a king and a whore. A hunt drenched in saline myths, that can only end in yelps of flapping eye-lids. And if man were a butterfly he would fly to the Milky Way to learn the knowledge of atomic supernovas.
The tears of St. Lawrence that shower the once-proud sky every August weep only for their own nature. They who once soothed the embryonic earth in frozen life, giving it reprieve from the volcanic storms, is now but a slave to a thieving saint. The shooting star has been enslaved, and its prison cell-mates makes a sorrowful list: the Americas, the Mediterranean skyline, and Tasmania.
Further Reading: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/blogs/on-this-day/2010/09/on-this-day-death-of-the-last-tasmanian-tiger?adbsc=social_20160906_65124136&adbid=10153882401008339&adbpl=fb&adbpr=100614418338
Rulers of the sky,
No vulture ever soared so high
As to see its own creation.
No butterfly ever flapped its wings
And changed the beating of our planet’s heart.
Rulers of the land,
Our footprints trampling the carbon
Out of stardust-turned fossils.
The lion never left so much waste
That the decomposers decomposed.
Rulers of the sea,
The humpback’s moonlight sonata
Drowned by hulls, by steel, by the sounds
That even silence cannot ignore.
Rulers of the cosmos,
The persieds streak through matter
To which we have no consequence
We are merely matter
That does not matter.
Against what we cannot contemplate,
Numbers to great, heat too hot,
Horizons that cannot be broken.
Looking up to the heavens we should realise
Only we can see this.
Looking down to our planet
Only we can save this.
I’ve visited many zoos around the world in my twenty five years on this planet, and I always looked forward to indulging in my love of nature in whatever small, humble way I could, land-locked in the centre of the UK or, more recently, relocated on a tiny Mediterranean island with virtually no native mammal species.
So during my recent trip to Madrid a day out to the city’s zoo was definitely on my to-do list. However, after my visit I found myself feeling unusually hollow and felt as though I had come to a new realisation since my last zoo experience eight years ago.
Zoos have moved on a great deal since 1828 when weird and wonderful animals were transported from across our colonies for our gawking eyes and our amusement. Facilities have improved, cages (or enclosures) have gotten bigger, and education, welfare and conservation have become a much higher priority. Zoos have allowed many people, me included, to learn about species that they would not have otherwise been able to see, and zoos inspire and intrigue us at all ages.
However, I left the city zoo feeling that this showcase of the natural world, as diverse and immersing as it was, was just a falsity. A portfolio of species in a context that simply does not exist in the wild. I struggle to see the benefits of zoos claiming conservation aims when they have managed to successfully breed a family of rare giant pandas, only to keep them confined to a relatively small and featureless enclosure with no possibility of ever introducing them into the wild to diversify its minuscule population.
I struggle to see the educational purposes of keeping (as far as I could see, at least) a lone wolf in an area not big enough for it to break into a run. This is not a typical or an accurate representation of the wolf in the wild. We all know that the wolf is a highly intelligent, social and transient species that roams vast areas and holds a huge territory with diverse habitat.
I struggle to see how children benefit from being held in front of a fence by their parents for a photo, when the child is not even old enough to know that he is a child. Or how older children can learn anything aboutanimals by banging on the glass screaming, or commenting (yet again) that they found Dory.
It’s problematic for me, one who wishes to indulge in nature as much as possible, and who craves contact with the natural world, to feel such apathy for this place. Whilst I am certain at least that the animals that I saw had their basic needs taken care of, behavioural, spacial, social and psychological restrictions are clearly felt. It definitely gave me some serious food for thought.
I’d love to know your opinions on this matter.