Proudly sponsored by Savage Interactive, the makers of the #1 creative app for iPad Procreate®
Proudly sponsored by Savage Interactive, the makers of the #1 creative app for iPad Procreate®

'Spirit of the Rainforest 2' With the Yawanawá Tribe
of the Amazon Rainforest


  • "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."

    John Dyer
    Artist in residence for the Eden Project, UK.
  • “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
  • “To be Yawanawá is to be free, to be born free, to live free and to die free.”

    Yawanawá Tribe

Voices from the Amazon Rainforest



Tribes are key to the health and future of the rainforests around the world. Their tribal ceremonies and deep connection to the rainforest has created a visual and musical culture that hasn’t been widely explored yet. A new genre of art to discover and connect to.

‘Long before the word “conservation” was coined, tribal peoples developed highly effective measures for maintaining the richness of their environment. They have sophisticated codes of conservation to stop overhunting and preserve biodiversity.’ Survival International.

Where & when?

Where & when?

Artist John Dyer and musician Martha-Lilly Dyer travelled to the Yawanawá tribe, who live in the Acre region of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, in June 2019. Permission was given by the tribe and also by FUNAI, the government department in Brazil that is involved with indigenous peoples. John Dyer’s friend, Amazon Indian artist Nixiwaka Yawanawá was involved in the project and painted alongside John. ‘Procreate – Spirit of the Rainforest’ started on June 3rd when the team left London. The team travelled by canoe on the Rio Gregório, to the tribal village of Mutum, on June 5th. Between June 5th and June 13th satellite communications allowed schools to ask questions and we uploaded blogs and video each day to inspire children across the world to connect to tribal culture and the environment. You can watch these videos and read our blogs to give your class a sense of ‘being in the moment’ with ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ and make sure to join us ‘LIVE’ on future chapters of the project.

Teaching Resources

Teaching Resources

The Born Free Foundation, with the help of the Eden Project and the Last Chance to Paint team have created downloadable lesson plans and teacher notes for learning about the Amazon rainforest and to follow the ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ adventure.

The resources are primarily designed for Key Stage 2 but are easily adaptable for all Key Stages. Links to Art and Design, Geography, Science, English, SMSC and Citizenship curricula.

Download the 5 lessons and the teacher notes from

We also have additional videos to inspire and ideas on our educators’ page.

What do we want you to do?

What do we want you to do?

We want you to use the art of John Dyer, Nixiwaka Yawanawá and the Yawanawá children, combined with our video diary, photographs and blogs to immerse your school and children in the subject of the rainforest. Encourage them to reflect, connect and to then create their own piece of rainforest inspired art based on plants, tribal people or animals and to upload it to our Help us to make real connections between peoples and to create the largest online art gallery of art celebrating the natural world. View the ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ gallery now and get ready to upload your children’s art.

What did John Dyer & Nixiwaka Yawanawá paint?

What did John Dyer & Nixiwaka Yawanawá paint?

John Dyer was joined by Amazon Indian artist Nixiwaka Yawanawá. Together they painted the deep connection between the tribe and the spirits of the rainforest.

Painting in the tribal village and the surrounding rainforest provided a rich creative and learning experience for us all. We experienced tribal life, the rainforest plants and animals that the tribe interacts with, body painting, tribal ceremonies and music.



Through this project, we are connecting children, using art and technology, with tribal culture. We hope that this will create a personal connection and bond to the rainforest and generate amazing pieces of art and lots of questions. We want every child involved to create their own piece of amazing art on the theme of  ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ that is inspired by the Amazon paintings of John Dyer and Nixiwaka Yawanawá and the animals, plants and people we introduce them to. They can send a high-quality photo of their final paintings, collages, mixed media etc to us and we will exhibit their art online in the World Galley.

Exhibition of John Dyer paintings & prints at the Royal Geographical Society in London

The Royal Geographical Society is planning to hold an exhibition of John Dyer’s work from the ‘Procreate- Spirit of the Rainforest’ chapter of Last Chance to Paint. For further details of this exciting exhibition please visit the special exhibition page on  The John Dyer Gallery.

Resources for your class

Resources for your class

We published a written blog and ‘LIVE’ video via satellite every day from the ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ chapter of ‘Last Chance to Paint’ whilst we lived and worked with the Yawanawá tribe in the Amazon rainforest. These resources make an inspiring way to introduce the subject to your children and we are still happy to take questions from your school if your questions are not answered in the existing blog posts and videos.

'Spirit of the Rainforest 2'

The entire Procreate ‘Spirit of the Rainforest 2’ chapter compiled into one feature length video from the video diary videos below. This video is 1hr and 18mins in length and follows artist John Dyer and musician Martha-Lilly Dyer on their adventure to the Yawanwá tribe in the Amazon rainforest. Watch as the artists paint, meet the tribe, paint with the tribe, play music and experience the Yawanawá way of life. A unique and inspiring insight into tribal culture and life in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil.

Day 1 - Cruzeiro do Sul

The Last Chance to paint team, artist John Dyer and musician Martha-Lilly Dyer finally arrive in Cruzeiro do Sul after travelling for over 30 hours from the UK. The second largest town in the area Cruzeiro do Sul is surrounded by rainforest and this remote Brazillian town offers the Last Chance to Paint team the opportunity to relax before continuing their journey to the Yawanawá tribe.

Day 2 - Rio Gregório

The team are met at their hotel by Nixiwaka Yawanawá and Alvino, who is a police officer. Alvino and Nixiwaka drive the team for three hours to the small settlement of Sao Vicente where they can then take a canoe upstream along the Rio Gregório to the tribal village of Mutum. Alvino the police officer knows the route well and how to avoid any dangers. The team leave late from Sao Vicente, their canoe suffers a broken propeller and they arrive at the tribal village of Mutum at dusk to discover some interesting spiders!

Day 3 - The Yawanawá Tribes' Mutum Village

The Last Chance​ to Paint team explore the tribal village of Mutum whilst they wait for permission to continue their project from the chief of the Yawanawá tribe. They then explore the rainforest with Nixiwaka Yawanawá looking for painting locations​. Parts of the rainforest are very sacred and the tribe paint John and Martha-Lilly’s faces with annatto seed red paint to keep them safe and to respect the spirits​ of the rainforest. Martha-Lilly eats a purple potato and John sniffs a very potent plant to clear his nose!

Day 4 - Painting in the rainforest

Martha-Lilly and John get ready for their first day of painting in the Amazon rainforest with Nixiwaka Yawanawá and members of the tribe. Many hours go past as the permissions are sought from the shaman to enter a specific part of the rainforest and for the decisions about which artists from the tribe will be chosen to join them​. ​The shaman blesses her canvas by rubbing it with annatto seeds and washing it in the river. Nixiwaka and John paint spiritual paintings featuring a shamanic​ pot and Martha-Lilly hears Toucans in the canopy of the rainforest as well as discovering​ a forest crab the night before! John uses the art app Procreate live in the rainforest to create a new digital painting on iPad mini.

Day 5 - Painting and digital art in the rainforest

John and Martha-Lilly are taken to an ​area of the Yawanawá’s rainforest that is full of sacred plants and paint next to a river whilst the tribe paint, draw and also fish. The tribe wear their traditional headdresses to show their culture and to honour​ the rainforest. At one point everyone disappears but they quickly return. John and Martha-Lilly answer more of the questions that have been sent in via satellite. John also creates new digital art using Procreate and his Apple iPad mini 5. Martha-Lilly discovers that the global plastic pollution​ problem​ has also reached the remote Amazon.

Day 6 - Painting in the Yawanawá's tree house

Martha-Lilly Dyer and John Dyer await the arrival of Robin and Merlin Hanbury-Tenison to the Yawanawá Mutum village in the Amazon rainforest. Robin and Merlin set up camp in a giant tree house and Robin enthusiastically recounts his morming encounter with birds and monkeys from the rainforest. It is raining for the first time during the expedition so the tree house is used as an art studio for John and the Yawanawá artists to work from. John is feeling unwell and is given coconut water to drink as it is a natural and sterile source to rehydrate from.

Day 7 - Painting in Mutum Village

John and Martha-Lilly go for Readybreak with filtered water for breakfast and tell us about the tribal Uni (ayahuasca) ceremony they attended the previous night. We see the team’s hammocks that keep them safe from insect bites at night and the Last Chance to Paint team answer lots of questions that have been sent in from children via Iridium satellite for them to answer. John paints the tribal ceremony in the place it happened the night before and Robin and Merlin discover a decapitated snake!

Day 8 - Painting the Rio Gregório

Artist John Dyer has his last painting day in the Amazon rainforest and chooses to paint the Rio Gregório whilst enduring the hot tropical sun and capturing life on the water. Merlin Hanbury-Tenison goes hunting with Nixiwaka Yawanawá and recounts a memorable story of his adventures in the rainforest. John takes a plunge in the river to cool down and shows us hundreds of Amazon butterflies and Martha-Lilly discovers more plastic polution in the village and hides under an umbrella to keep cool whilst dreaming about sandwiches!

Day 9 - Mutum school, annatto seed painting and rainforest flute

The final day of Spirit of the Rainforest project from the Amazon Yawanwá tribe and the Last Chance to Paint team visit the school in Mutum village. Martha-Lilly plays flute for the children whilst they paint rainforest pictures using annatto seed paint. This special video contains the ‘Voices from the Amazon Rainforest’ film made following the school visit where the children talk to Martha-Lilly about their paintings and how important the rainforest is to them. The video also contains the world premier of a special piece of flute music performed by Martha-Lilly Dyer that was composed by Jake Thorpe for the project based on the Amazon water spirit Yuxi Yuve.

'LIVE' from the Amazon Rainforest

You can still ask us questions

When we are travelling schools can ask us questions ‘LIVE’ via our satellite link. We are now back in the UK but we are still happy to answer any questions you might have that haven’t already been answered in our videos and written blogs.

Music Inspired by 'Spirit of the Rainforest' Rainforest World Premier

Yuxi Yuve The Yawanawá Water Spirit
Composed by Jake Thorpe and performed on flute by Martha-Lilly Dyer

Chapter Sponsor<br>Procreate

Chapter Sponsor

Savage Interactive, the makers of the Procreate App, have kindly sponsored our ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ chapter of ‘Last Chance to Paint’ and we are thrilled to be working with them. Procreate is the leading and best-selling art App for iPad. The iPhone version of the App, Procreate Pocket, was named by Apple as the iPhone App of the year 2018. John Dyer will be using Procreate whilst in the Amazon rainforest.

“Procreate is a multi-award winning creative app designed to free creative professionals from their desk. Create beautiful sketches, inspiring paintings, and stunning illustrations wherever you are.”

Supporter<br>Neville Shulman CBE

Neville Shulman CBE

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, explorer, mountaineer, journalist, author, and art collector. He has travelled extensively throughout the world and every year undertakes expeditions and exploration to promote a number of charities. Neville Shulman is a novelist and writer on travel, exploration and Zen philosophy and is a Fellow of the Royal Society For The Encouragement Of The Arts, a Director of Shepperton Film Studios, and has many involvements in the theatre, film and entertainment industries.

John Dyer Amazon Rainforest Signed Prints & Original Paintings Available

Many of John Dyer’s paintings of the Amazon and the Spirits of the Rainforest are available as beautiful signed prints.
Find out more on the exhibition page for the project on The John Dyer Gallery
Artist John Dyer painting with Amazon Indian Nixiwaka Yawanawá at the Eden Project.

John Dyer & Amazon Indian Nixiwaka Yawanawá

Artist John Dyer painting with Amazon Indian Nixiwaka Yawanawá at the Eden Project.

An introduction by Nixiwaka Yawanawá

BBC news footage from the 'Spirit of the Rainforest' project at the Eden Project.

As short video from the BBC showing artist John Dyer and Amazon Indian artist Nixiwaka Yawanawá at work in the rainforest biome.

Meet Nixiwaka Yawanawá

Nixiwaka Yawamawá talks about his life and the tribe

More about Nixiwaka Yawanawá

Find out more about the Yawanawá tribe and Nixiwaka’s life on the Survival International web site with information on the rainforest, their food, culture and problems they face.

View the original 'Spirit of the Rainforest' art project

Over 1000 children, 100 teachers and schools all over the world took part in John Dyer’s first ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ art project. Find out all about that project and see the children’s work. ‘Spirit of the Rainforest II’ promises to make even stronger connections between us and tribal culture.
  • "I went round the exhibition with our Chinese delegation yesterday and they were dumbstruck by the sheer effervescence of the display. Simply marvellous."

    Sir Tim Smit, KBE
    Executive Chairman of Eden Project International and Co-Founder & Executive Vice Chair of Eden Project


Are you already inspired to paint, draw, collage or create on the subject of 'Spirit of the Rainforest'?

If you are already itching to get creative and to connect to the subject of ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ through art then don’t hold back! You can send us your very best art already and we will proudly celebrate it on our online gallery for you. We do have some terms and conditions you will need to read before submitting your art and all art must be submitted by an adult. We are looking for your absolutely best work, something you will be proud to put on your wall at home and to see online in ten years time – so make it fantastic and make it from the heart. We can’t wait to see what you do.