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Updates from the Last Chance to Paint team

Day 8 – Last day of painting

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

It’s our penultimate day in Mutum with the Yawanawá and it’s boiling!

As our week draws to a close we are really starting to feel the tiredness settle in, especially in these boiling temperatures, and we are looking forward to travelling home to recount all of our amazing stories. The hot sunny weather has been an issue for the first time today! The iphone, which we video, photograph, write and upload blogs from overheated, meaning we weren’t able to use it so much. It was also a massive strain on us being outside all morning and we rewarded ourselves with a pleasant swim in the river!

John today is painting the Rio Gregorió as it’s played a huge part in our trip. Not only is it a spectacular view, but it has served as our way in and out of Mutum and most importantly our shower for the week. It’s a wonderful sight down by the river, seeing the children playing, boats coming and going, and the woman washing clothes and dishes. This is John’s last painting on our adventure and he has managed to produce 5 gorgeous pieces of work.

What we’ve seen more and more working with the Yawanawá adult artists this week, is, not only how talented they are, but how important their traditional body painting designs are to them. When they body paint they use Annato seeds for the red paint and Genipap for the black. It’s been very interesting to watch as they’ve combined the traditional pattern work with spiritual visions they’ve had, and by using the ink pen and watercolours we provided they have created some wonderful pieces of art.

We’ve learnt more about the Yawanawá today too! Each member of the Yawanawá has two names. One in Portuguese and one in the indigenous language. For example; Nixiwaka Yawanawá is Nixi’s indigenous name whilst Brazil has him registered as Joel da Silva Luiz. They often get given their Yawanawá names in spiritual ceremonies. Another fun fact we have also come to discover is that the name of the village, “Mutum” translates to Turkey!

Early this morning at around 5am, Nixi and Merlin (our travelling companion) set out hunting. They tracked into the forest for 6hrs seeing many amazing animals, including scarlet macaws, howler monkeys and a 5 foot long black snake!

Although hunting is often frowned upon, it is actually crucial to keep tribes like the Yawanawá sustainable. It’s not just part of their culture which they completely love, but it keeps them from relying on breeding animals in their villages. They have already started breeding pigs which will inevitably result in the animals needing antibiotics due to illness but like we have in our developed communities. They will go out and shoot maybe one or two birds or a wild boar each hunt, which will feed their families and keep their lives sustainable. They never take more than they need to. If they weren’t able to hunt they would either be importing food from local towns therefore using 100’s of litres of diesel to do so, or they would be breeding many pigs, chickens and cows on their land meaning that they would probably have to chop down more rainforest to do so, making their simple lives potentially really damaging for the environment.

What we’ve learnt by being here and what we hope that everyone following us has also come to realise, is how important the rainforest is to tribes like the Yawanawá. Here’s a quote:

“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.” – Nixiwaka Yawanawá

Whilst I was watching John paint today, amongst blog writing, photography and video editing, Robin lent me an interview from Wade Davis to read. These two sentences really stuck out for me.

“A child raised to believe that a mountain is the abode of a protective spirit will be a profoundly different human being from a youth brought up to believe that a mountain is an inert mass of rock ready to be mined. A tribal boy raised to reverse the coastal forests as the realm of the divine will be a different person from a Canadian child taught to believe that such forests are destined to be logged.” – Wade Davis

We feel that this quote really resonates with Last Chance to Paint as we are hoping the children will start to care about the subjects we explore.

“When a child creates a piece of art they are immersed in a reflective space where they care about the subject as they care about the art. Therefore we hope they will grow up more like the child who sees the mountain, not the rock, and the forest, not the wood.” – John Dyer


Today’s challenge is a big one as we approach the end of our time in Brazil!

1. Research what the ‘Planetary health diet’ means and consists of. 2. Start to implement it into your daily lives. At school or at home.

We only have a few years left to decrease the rate of climate change. Let’s try and start now!

Don’t forget to upload your pieces of art to the world gallery on our website! We can’t wait to see what you’ve done! Also we will be releasing our videos of days 5,6,7,8 and 9 hopefully ready for you to watch Friday morning!

See you soon! Martha-Lilly x

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