Spirit of the Rainforest Art Exhibition at Eden. Launch Event

Published on 10/16/2015

12 new large spiritual paintings by Eden’s artist in residence John Dyer and Amazon Indian Nixiwaka Yawanawá will go on display at the Eden Project at 6pm this Saturday 17th October. The paintings are a unique insight into the sacred spiritual culture of the Yawanawá tribe of Brazil. The Eden Project hosted the two artists for a special residency in the rainforest biome during May 2015 for a unique cultural exchange and the results are spectacular.

More than a thousand young artists have created a beautiful selection of work inspired by the rainforest for the new Eden Project exhibition.

The children created the pieces for Eden’s Spirit of the Rainforest project and competition. Entries came from all over the world, including China, Kenya, Italy, Hungary and Singapore as well as the UK.

“I discovered that Nixiwaka had a dream, his dream was to paint. I also had a dream, a dream of connecting young people to tribal culture in a positive and life changing way. Working together we have realised this dream and the outcome is a world first and truly spectacular. We have 12 meters of professional art from myself and Nixiwaka exploring the sacred spirits of the rainforest and over 200meters of art on display in the rainforest biome from children from the UK, Kenya, Hungary, Hong Kong, China and Italy. It gives you goose bumps to see and I know we have connected thousands of young people to the rainforest in a unique and powerful way. It is amazing and a must see.” John Dyer

Twenty-four winning entries, across four age group categories from under-fives to 13-16 year olds, have been chosen by a panel of expert judges including John Dyer and the president of Survival International Robin Hanbury-Tenison OBE. The winning entries and 300 other selected works from children will be displayed in the Rainforest Biome in one of the world’s largest exhibitions of children’s art. 

“All of the art that was sent into the project from children has been exhibited on The John Dyer Gallery and Eden Project web sites. We have also hand picked the top 300 to form a gigantic exhibition that is hung amongst the rainforest plants at Eden. It is over 200 meters in length. You will be inspired when you see it.” John Dyer

The children’s artworks will be unveiled at Eden on Saturday (October 17), alongside an exhibition of new work by John Dyer, the Eden Project’s painter in residence, and Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an Amazonian Indian artist. The children’s art project was inspired by John and Nixiwaka’s residency at Eden, which took place in May.

“The Rainforest is a vital part of our lives and our future. We don't all realise this yet but the tribal people of the Amazon know it. My new Amazon paintings connect us to Tribal Culture and the Rainforest and I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the unique story these paintings tell and the importance to us all of connecting to the true culture and spirituality of the rainforest. Working alongside Nixiwaka Yawanawá was a privilege. He doesn't just see the plants, he experiences them, he knows them and he knows the spirits and energy that reside in them. This he shared and taught to me and I hope that my special set of paintings will help to unlock this powerful world to you. This new way of seeing helps us all to connect and respect nature and tribal people." John Dyer

John and Nixiwaka worked alongside one another in the Rainforest Biome on a series of paintings, inspired by the Yawanawá tribe. The artists produced their own unique artistic takes on the spirits and plants of the rainforest.

"Every morning Nixiwaka would enter the rainforest biome at the Eden Project alone. I encouraged him to do this so that he could have space and silence to connect spiritually with the plants. He would locate a place in the rainforest for us to paint and that he felt connected to. At the start of each painting Nixiwaka explained the spiritual connections and visions related to the painting we would embark upon. I have enabled Nixiwaka to bring the Yawanawá tribe's Amazon Indian art to a new audience, to give this spectacular genre of art a platform and quite literally a canvas to live upon. Traditionally the bodies and faces of the Yawanawá themselves are their canvases, the paintings and designs they draw onto each other bring the power of the spirits to them. This use of line and bold geometric colour has shone through in Nixiwaka's paintings. For my paintings I allowed the plants surrounding me to form key elements of my compositions. I combined these with the spiritual animals and plants connected to each spirit & story that Nixiwaka told me. 

There is a great strength and history to the Amazon spirits and Yawanawá people. I have taken great care to pay respect to these in my paintings. I have created a fusion of both cultures in my paintings & I hope this will open the door to another world, to the paintings of Nixiwaka Yawanawá & to the ultimate story of how tribal people are the most important custodians of the rainforest around the world.” John Dyer

Jo Elworthy, Eden’s director of interpretation, said: “We have been amazed by the vision and quality of the work we’ve received for the Spirit of the Rainforest project. It’s heartening that the rainforest has provided such an inspiration for a new generation of young artists from around the world.

“The bold and beautiful paintings of John and Nixiwaka are a fabulous addition to the great body of work that has been created in and inspired by the Eden Project. Their collaboration has not only acted as an inspiration for a new generation of artists but will also help highlight the challenges faced by both tribal people and the rainforest in general.”

Nixiwaka Yawanawá is a Yawanawá Indian from the Brazilian Amazon. He has spent a year working with the charity Survival International to raise awareness of the Amazon and to speak out for tribal peoples’ rights.

Nixiwaka said: "When we see harm come to the rainforest, it is as if a part of our own body has been hurt. It feels like an illness that rises up in us and needs to be cured."

John Dyer is one of the UK's most exciting and well known postmodern painters. His work is collected internationally and his paintings have been the subject of popular television programmes and a wide range of merchandise.

John said: "The rainforest is a vital part of our lives and our future. We don't all realise this yet but the tribal people of the Amazon know it. By engaging children with the rainforest through art I hope it will build a lifelong concern and connection to the environment.

“When I travelled to the Amazon in 1989 as a photographer with Thames TV I was inspired. Inspired by the beauty and inspired to paint. I have painted ever since.”

Spirit of the Rainforest is being produced in partnership with Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. Survival helps them defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures. www.survivalinternational.org

Eden and Survival most recently worked together on the People of the Rainforest photographic exhibition. Stunning pictures of tribal people of the rainforest taken by Cornish explorer and writer Robin Hanbury-Tenison and the world-renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado have been on display in Eden’s Rainforest Biome since October last year.

For details of the project please see:
http://www.johndyergallery.co.uk/rainforest
http://www.edenproject.com/spirit-of-the-rainforest

The project is supported by:
Kids in Museums, The John Dyer Gallery, Winsor & Newton, Jacksons Art, Zazzle UK, Banrock Station Wine, Falmouth Art Gallery, Survival International and the Eden Project