Hello, we are now back from Borneo and busily organising all the paintings, drawings, photographs and videos to act as a resource for you to use to inspire lots of amazing art! The HD versions of our video blog are now available on the ‘Person of the Forest’ chapter page.
We would like to invite you all to attend an exhibition opening of my paintings from the Amazon and Borneo at the Eden Project on Friday 4th October at 4 pm to 6 pm. It’s free to attend and you can see the paintings and follow a link to book free tickets on the John Dyer Gallery website.
On Saturday 5th October and Sunday 6th October we are running ‘Last Chance to Paint’ drop-in art workshops at the Eden Project with tropical plants to paint and draw and all of my paintings available to view as inspiration. Please do come if you can and if you contact us we can add you to a VIP list for free entry too.
Fires in Borneo and Climate Change
The fires in Borneo have got much worse since we left with rainforest being cleared for palm oil plantations at a record rate. The air is so thick with smoke the light is literally red – it’s a horrific state of affairs and the more forest that is burnt the greater the acceleration in climate change and many animals, including orangutans, are pushed further towards extinction.
Your children, schools and your families can help though with very simple changes in behaviour and I would like to urge you all to consider the following:
- Reduce or cut out eating meat. This is the number one way to slow down the emissions as the meat industry creates over 2.5 times the amount of greenhouse gases than all the transport on the planet does. My family are vegetarian and have been for over 25 years so we are not as low-carbon as vegan but being vegetarian is a very easy step to take – or be vegetarian for most of the week. Failing that try and take red meat out of your diets as that has the biggest negative impact on the planet. Farming cows in Brazil is the main reason the Amazon rainforest is being burnt and the soya that is also grown in Brazil on previously rainforested areas is used as animal feed. The Yawanawá tribe are currently safe but many other tribes in Brazil have not done well as their villages and land have been burnt as their land is taken from them for rearing cows for beef. Fast food is particularly at fault here so the children should know that eating beef burgers in fast food outlets is putting the rainforest in peril and the climate.
- Check your products for palm oil. Palm oil is an amazing crop as it is 10x more efficient than other oil crops BUT the reality is it is also used as a cheap oil to bulk up food where it isn’t needed and when we demand more products with palm oil in (probably inadvertently by not reading the ingredients on the pack) we increase global demand, the price goes up and the next dry season record amounts of rainforest is burnt to plant palm oil to satisfy demand. By eating palm oil we are almost guaranteeing the extinction of many many species and certainly the orangutan. The rate of climate change also increases as the forests are felled. Please check your labels when shopping.
- Plant a tree or a few trees. Trees are amazing. They build themselves, lock up carbon, emit oxygen and create habitat and food for many living things. If there is space at your home or an area of school land to plant trees then do it!
- Make a reusable stainless steel water bottle part of your school uniform. There are almost no excuses nowadays to be buying water in plastic bottles. Save yourselves money and get a stainless steel reusable bottle and provide refill points at school.
All of the above suggestions can make a real difference if adopted widely and can help to slow the problems we have whilst we work on government level solutions. We are all responsible for the planet -it isn’t just a problem for the older generation to deal with – children are fundamental to effective change too.
We have had a few more questions in since we left Borneo which I can now answer as we have reached out to the Penan tribe for an answer to the first question and just received a reply.
Do the Penan tribe celebrate any particular customs or celebrations?
Ismail, our Penan guide, said that traditionally the Penan do not have any big celebrations but would have small rituals associated with certain events, such as when a certain animal was hunted. Now that most Penan have settled and have converted to Christianity, they celebrate Christmas, usually with the whole community gathering to eat together and play games on Christmas Day. Also, weddings are celebrated.
Which place in Borneo was your favourite?
For me, I adored the rivers and tropical peat rainforest fo central Kalimantan where we stayed with the orangutans. It was wild, untamed, raw. To have wild orangutans wandering around, bathing, cuddling their babies, feeding and wading across the river was very special. They really are the ‘Person of the Forest’ and obviously have very similar emotions and needs to us.
Martha-Lily, what type of music, heard in Borneo did you like best? Which was your favourite instrument?
Martha-Lilly loved playing the Penan nose flute and purchased one from the Penan so she can continue to experiment with the instrument. It is a very simple instrument made from a single piece of bamboo. It has a limited range of notes but this is part of its charm as it creates a hypnotic repetitive form of music.
Out of all the wildlife you encountered on your trip, which animal was your favourite?
For me, it was the orangutans as they are so like us they are intriguing, but to also see a soft-shelled turtle, crazy stick insects with lime green spikes, poisonous centipedes, to hear the whoosh of hornbills in the canopy, cheeky wild macaque monkeys playing and fighting, water snakes swimming down river, huge kingfishers and three million wrinkle-lipped bats flying from their cave are all incredible sights I will never forget.
We liked all of the paintings which John did during the trip, but which was your favourite?
That is so hard to answer but perhaps my ‘Person of the Forest’ painting of the Orangutan Foundation team member walking hand in hand with the 3year old orangutan sums up my time in southern Borneo well and my painting of Nyapun and his two wives playing music outside their house in the Penan’s tribal village of Batu Bungan are my favourites.
As we update the web site we will keep you posted and please send any more questions your children have and we will try and answer these for you. Please do submit their art as soon as you can (and before November 22nd) as we need you to do that for the project to succeed as our World Gallery is a key part of our aims. A reminder to us all and the children as they grow, of what we all stand to lose.
I hope to see you at the Eden Project soon!
P.S. do complete our feedback form too if you can – that would be really helpful 🙂