New Art Project: Spirit of the Rainforest

Published on 03/27/2015

Two Creative Cultures brought together in the
World’s largest Captive Rainforest


In 1989 British Artist John Dyer explored the Amazon as a photographer for Thames TV. At that time an Amazonian Indian, Nixiwaka, was a small boy living with his tribe the Yawanawá in the Amazon Rainforest. 26 years later John and Nixiwaka met at the Eden Project. John Dyer’s Amazon experience turned him into an artist and painter and John discovered that one of Nixiwaka’s dreams is to paint.

The Eden Project is now bringing these two creatives together in a unique cultural exchange to create a new exhibition of paintings that will be used to inspire a new generation to connect to the Rainforest.

From May 4th to 15th 2015, British Artist John Dyer and Amazonian Indian Artist Nixiwaka Yawanawá will be working together in the largest captive rainforest on the planet at the Eden Project in Cornwall to produce a series of new paintings exploring the Spirit of the Rainforest from the Western and Amazonian cultural perspective. The project is a unique artistic and cultural exchange and a world first.

Artistic practitioner John Frankland will lead a group of actors, music makers and writers who will join the two artists during the residency to create a new performance piece based on the stories, events and spirituality that emerges from this cultural collaboration. This new piece of theatre is planned to tour UK schools and venues in 2016/17.

Children are invited to engage with this project by submitting their paintings and drawings on the theme of "Spirit of the Rainforest", inspired by the rainforest, John Dyer's paintings and Nixiwaka Yawanawá's paintings. All the work will be exhibited on www.edenproject.com and the best exhibited in Eden’s rainforest. (T&C Apply)

"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."
Nixiwaka Yawanawá. Amazonian Indian


"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.”
John Dyer. Painter in Residence at The Eden Project

“I am a Yawanawá Indian from the Brazilian Amazon. I am working with the charity Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, to raise awareness of the Amazon and to speak out for tribal peoples’ rights.”


Yawanawá translates as ‘The People of the Wild Boar’. This is because as a tribe, we are always together – when we hunt, and in life in general. We are a pack. I was born in Kaxinawa, the most sacred part of the Yawanawá lands, where my people originate from. Kaxinawa is where my grandfather and all our great chiefs are buried. I lived there for a month as a baby, and we then moved to Tarauaca, a small town near our lands.

My Father had been asked by FUNAI (the National Indian Foundation) to represent indigenous peoples in the area, which is why we moved to Tarauaca. I studied in town until I was 10 years old, then we moved back to our village, which is called ‘New Hope’. Kaxinawa is now known as ‘the sacred place’.

My Father was concerned that we were removed from our people and wanted us to be raised within the Yawanawá way of life. In the rainforest, you are completely connected to the elements; you are surrounded by the constant sounds of animals, insects, frogs and water. At night you are illuminated by the stars, which shine endlessly. It is beautiful!

We have lived on our land for centuries. Our way of life is developed from our ancestors. We live close to nature. We get our food, housing and virtually everything we need from our rainforests.

The rainforest is also our pharmacy. Our spiritual leaders are known as ‘doctors of the rainforest’. They know the powers of our medicinal herbs and plants. From tree bark to frog saliva, we hold the answers for cures and poisons alike. The forest is a magical place. 

www.survivalinternational.org/nixiwaka

Key Project Dates


May 4th to May 15th 

John Dyer and Nixiwaka Yawanawá will be painting in the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project


May 11th

Press Call to The Eden Project to meetJohn Dyer and Nixiwaka Yawanawá
Proposed children’s painting work shop with the artists

May 14th

Educational launch of the project to school teachers at the Eden Project with John Dyer and Nixiwaka Yawanawá

June to October

Website: www.edenproject.com open to receive & exhibit children’s art on the online Spirit of the Rainforest gallery

October 17th

Private view and special event to launch the exhibition of paintings at the Eden Project with John Dyer

October 17th & 18th

Special weekend that will exhibit hundreds of the best children’s art work in the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project

The exhibition of John Dyer’s and Nixiwaka Yawanawá’s paintings will run until Christmas 2015 at the Eden Project.

Click for full details of the Spirit of the Rainforest project

View the art connected to this story