Meet the team
Art, Music, Plants, People, Animals,
Science, Education, Exploration
‘Last Chance to Paint’ is a being put together with a dynamic and expert team of creatives, educators, supporters and organisations. Please find out more below.
John Dyer has been the artist in residence at the Eden Project in the UK from the year 2000 to the present day. He was made a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society by the world’s greatest explorer of the 20th century Robin Hanbury-Tenison. He is one of Cornwall’s best known and acclaimed contemporary painters and has been appointed as the artist in residence for many organisations, celebrities and events around the world.
In 2009 John was made the artist in residence for the ‘Darwin 200’ celebrations and did a series of work focused on endangered animals as well as travelling to Peru for the United Nations year of the potato to paint this amazing ethnobotanical harvest. John is the UK’s leading ethnobotanical artist and has painted the world’s three main staple food harvests for the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), including the rice harvest in the Philippines for the United Nations year of rice, the potato harvest in Peru for the United Nations year of the potato and the banana and cacao harvest in Costa Rica.
In 2018 John was honoured with a major retrospective exhibition of his work at Falmouth Art Gallery in Cornwall, partly funded by the Arts Council. As part of his retrospectivethe book, ‘Painting the Colours of the World’ was commissioned. The book details the artist’s life and work including all of his environmental projects and paintings.
In the words of Alan Titchmarsh: “John is an artist who reaches the parts that many other artists cannot.”
And singer Toyah Willcox adds:
“John’s brave use of colour and broad truthful brushstrokes make a direct hit on the retina.”
John’s most recent community art project work has been with the Eden Project, Survival International and Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an indian from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ project engaged well over 1000 children from all over the world to connect with tribal culture through art.
John Dyer has appeared on TV programmes for ITV and the BBC and has been featured in many news broadcasts. In addition to this, the following videos have been made for previous projects and exhibitions.
‘Painting the Colours of the World’ Artist’s 50th birthday retrospective exhibition 2018.
‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ exhibition at the Eden Project 2015/2016.
‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ Project
‘Rice is Life’ Project. Painting for the United Nations Year of Rice at IRRI in the Philippines.
‘Darwin200’ Project. Painting for the United Nations Year of Potato at CIP in Peru.
‘Wine & Wetlands, Banrock Station’ Project. Painting for wetlands in Australia.
‘The BIG Art and Storytelling Tall Ships Project’ supported by the Arts Council.
Martha-Lilly Dyer is a flautist, musician and educator currently studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. She speaks fluently in both English and French.
Martha-Lilly studied music as a specialist musician at Wells Cathedral School and is one of the UK’s most promising young talents.
Having studied music and woodwind, specialising on the flute for over 7 years Martha-Lilly has great knowledge of musical opportunities and performance situations. Before starting on her current degree course Martha-Lilly worked at Wells Cathedral Junior School as a teaching assistant.
“My role working as a TA at Wells Cathedral Junior School was incredibly varied and gave me the chance to develop excellent communication and organisational skills. I supported children aged 3-11 in an educational setting and worked with a number of different teaching staff and support staff. As well as completing tasks set by my line managers, I regularly volunteered my time to complete additional duties such as supporting pupils in extra-curricular concerts and writing a full orchestral score for pupils to perform in an assembly. I have seen how the power of music can transform a class situation.”
Martha-Lilly will be travelling with her father John Dyer and will be researching and looking for musical opportunities to enhance the project and to send back to classrooms around the word from the latest ‘Last Chance to Paint’ location. She will also be taking on the role of the project’s photographer, documenting the project and John Dyer’s work and also fronting the planned live broadcasts with her bubbly and young personality to engage children around the world with ‘Last Chance to Paint’.
Martha-Lilly Dyer performing in London
“Robin Hanbury-Tenison OBE, DL, Dsc, Dhc, MA, FLS, FRGS is an explorer with a conscience and a fellow of and a former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society in London. He has spent much of his life travelling in the world’s rainforests and deserts and campaigning to protect both them and their people. One of the few remaining explorers who merits the name, he made the two first crossings of South America from East to West (1958) and North to South (1964/5). He believes that the spirit of exploration is alive and well and never more needed than now, as we begin to realise how little we really understand our world and how rapidly we are destroying it.
His latest book, Finding Eden, is a lyrical description of his year in the Borneo rainforest leading the team of scientists that launched the rainforest movement and his time with the delightful Penan people.
The author of over twenty books, most of which are still in print, he also became celebrated as a photographer via the critically acclaimed exhibition at the National Theatre, Echoes of a Vanished World, that detailed his first encounters with pristine peoples and places…”
Read more about Robin’s amazing life and achievements on his website.
David Ashe is a technologist and educator. Trained as a Mathematics teacher, David has taught at Primary, Secondary, FE and University levels. After working with a number of technology companies, including Apple Computer, he returned to University to write a PhD which investigated the ways individuals (focusing on Upper-Primary and Lower-Secondary school students) learn and how personal connections can enable deeper understanding. David describes himself as a ‘Learning Scientist’; that is, someone who is constantly learning and someone who continues to research how people learn.
Over the past 7 years, David has conducted ‘Continued Professional Development’ courses for in-service teachers and is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, has worked with The Teacher Enrichment Academy and will be presenting his latest research paper at The International Conference of the Learning Sciences in June 2018.
Further details about David can be found at: Dr David Ashe – Research Fellow
Established in 1984, Born Free opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaigns to Keep Wildlife in the Wild. Promoting Compassionate Conservation, Born Free also aims to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs, and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals – for their own intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the natural world.
For more information about Born Free please visit: www.bornfree.org.uk
Above: Artist John Dyer and Amazon Indian Nixiwaka Yawanawá painting in the rainforest biome of the Eden Project
Nestled in a huge crater, Eden’s covered Biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity, Mediterranean landscapes, stunning plants, crop displays, art installations, exhibitions and stories. They serve as the backdrop to striking contemporary Outdoor Gardens. Here grow colourful plant displays, as well as wild and cultivated landscapes. The Core, Eden’s Exhibitions and Learning Centre, is home to Invisible Worlds, an exhibition exploring the interconnectedness of life and the environment at every scale.
The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world exploring how we can work towards a better future. Eden was built as a symbol of optimism showing what can be done when people work together and with nature and shares stories of hope to inspire people to get involved in tackling some of today’s environmental challenges.
Eden’s plants, exhibits and exhibitions celebrate our relationship with the natural world: our life-support system. Plants are our lifeblood. From blue jeans to coffee beans, plants feed us, clothe us and heal us. They colour the fabric of our lives and supply the very air we breathe. Eden is a living theatre of plants and people. Many players – artists, writers, sculptors, poets and storytellers – come to perform on Eden’s stage to help communicate the amazing stories about people’s relationship with nature and the vital importance of respecting and nurturing that which keeps us alive. John Dyer was already exploring the relationship between plants and people with his crop paintings from Provence when he was appointed as Eden’s painter in residence in 2000. From day one John embraced Eden’s mission and narrative with his optimistic paintings exploring plants, people and projects. He still works alongside Eden today, and we have been delighted to hold exhibitions of his paintings to share his vision and energy with a wide audience.
As John discovered more about the plants, the crops and those who grew them, his interest in ethno-botany grew and he embarked on fascinating painting projects, with Eden’s assistance, with organisations in Peru, Australia, Costa Rica and the Philippines. More recently John’s interest has been captured by tribal culture, and his idea to invite Amazon Indian Nixiwaka Yawanawá, a guest of Survival International, to paint alongside him in our Rainforest Biome was inspired. The paintings resulting from this partnership shone a light on tribal culture, the beauty of the forest and its vital nature and the importance of tribes to the health and protection of the rainforests. It also uncovered a new genre of art. This was only the start: it was John’s enthusiasm which inspired over a thousand children from around the world to take an active part in the project too and we were honoured and delighted to exhibit more than three hundred of their paintings in the Rainforest Biome.
It has been a pleasure to work with John at Eden for the past 18 years, and we look forward to many fruitful partnerships in the future.
Dr Jo Elworthy Director of Interpretation at the Eden Project
The destruction of our rainforest land is terrible, because the forest is alive. It is our life, and the animals’ life. We don’t separate our existence from it, we are all one body and one being: the plants, water, trees and Yawanawá. 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
These are the words of Nixiwaka Yawanawá. An Amazon Indian from Acre, who came to work at Survival International to help spread the message about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the homes of hundreds of thousands of Amazonian tribes, including many uncontacted peoples.
Nixiwaka spent a year at Survival International in London which saw him tour the country extensively visiting schools, universities and clubs. While visiting the Eden Project to open an exhibition of photographs by Sebastião Salgado and Survival’s President Robin Hanbury-Tenison, he met artist John Dyer and the Spirit of the Rainforest Project was conceived.
Survival was co-founded in 1969 by Robin Hanbury-Tenison, appalled by the genocide of Amazon Indians detailed in a Sunday Times exposé.
Robin recalls: ‘For several years, we had little or no income and were run by volunteers. We published information about tribal peoples’ problems, supported projects in their communities, and lobbied for their rights in international forums like the UN. But quickly it became apparent that the only way to ensure the continued survival of tribal peoples was also to catalyse a groundswell of public opinion in their favour.
‘That’s ultimately how all progressive movements foster lasting change, from stopping the slave trade two centuries ago, to destroying South African apartheid.
‘From our humble beginnings, our thousands of supporters around the world elevated our struggle to a global movement, with hundreds of concrete successes in the field.
‘The movement has radically altered the outlook for tribal peoples in many parts of the world.
‘Our vision is a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights are protected.’
One of the key campaigns, and one that Nixiwaka helped to highlight during his time in the UK, was the plight of the many uncontacted tribes in the Amazon and other parts of the world.
There are more than one hundred uncontacted tribes around the world.
Uncontacted tribes are not ‘backward’, ‘primitive’ or relics of a remote past. They are our contemporaries and a vitally important part of humankind’s diversity. Where their rights are respected, they continue to thrive.
As Nixiwaka passionately spoke about, tribal peoples are the best guardians of the natural world, and evidence proves that tribal territories are the best barrier to deforestation. The best way to prevent the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is to campaign for the land rights of uncontacted tribes.
That is Survival’s core message: For tribes, for nature, for all humanity.