'Person of the Forest' Orangutans in Borneo

  • "Orangutans share 97% of their DNA with us making them our closest relatives. They really are the people of the forest, but just like tribal peoples we are destroying their habitat and we need to find a new way forward before we lose this amazing animal and the forests they live in."

    John Dyer
Why?

Why?

Palm oil is a super-efficient crop, meaning that we can produce a lot more palm oil per area of land compared to other oil crops like soybean oil or coconut oil. It is also less dependant on pesticides and fertilisers and is produced from African oil palms. The bad news is that these plantations are creating a huge loss of rainforest and adding many animals including the orangutan to the critically endangered list. We want to look at what is happening in Borneo, the forests, palm oil and connect directly through art to the orangutans themselves.

Where and when?

Where and when?

There are several reserves for orangutans in Borneo as so many have been injured or lost their homes due to deforestation. Spotting orangutans in the wild is very difficult so we will meet the ‘forest people’ at the reserves and also visit their natural habitat to get a true sense of their beguiling nature and the sheer beauty of the tropical forests.

What will John Dyer paint?

What will John Dyer paint?

Painting the orangutans will be a challenge but one the artist can’t wait to take on. The tropical forests, plants, atmosphere, colours and the wide variety of shapes and sizes of orangutan will make wonderful subjects to study through art.

Outcomes

Outcomes

By spending time painting and drawing the orangutans in Borneo the project will naturally bring up the complex issues surrounding agriculture, population, commercial use of vegetable oils and how we need to urgently find a balance in the future so that ecosystems and man can co-exist. The children who engage in the project will have a chance to ask direct questions to the scientists and conservationists working with the orangutans and to talk with John Dyer as he embarks on his series of new paintings. This cultural and scientific exchange should build lifelong connections.