Spirit of the Rainforest art project
Following the 2015 residency of British artist John Dyer and Amazonian Indian artist Nixiwaka Yawanawá inside our Rainforest Biome, children sent us their own artwork on the theme of 'Spirit of the Rainforest', culminating in an exhibition at Eden.
Nixiwaka Yawanawá TEDx talk
Hear Nixiwaka speak about the significance of the rainforest to his peoplePlay video
We invited thousands of children across the world to get creative and connect with the rainforest, by inviting them to submit their very best artwork that they felt connects to the Spirit of the Rainforest. Their art was inspired by:
• the rainforest paintings by John Dyer and Nixiwaka Yawanawá
• tribal people and culture
• rainforest plants
• rainforest animals, birds and insects
• rainforest foods.
The top 24 winning entries were displayed on the top floor of the Link building in between the Biomes, with the top 300 displayed inside the Rainforest Biome itself.
About the residency
In 1989 British artist John Dyer explored the Amazon as a photographer for Thames TV. At that time an Amazonian Indian, Nixiwaka, was a small boy living with his tribe the Yawanawá in the Amazon Rainforest. 26 years later John and Nixiwaka met at the Eden Project. John Dyer’s Amazon experience turned him into an artist and painter and John discovered that one of Nixiwaka’s dreams is to paint.
Then in May 2015 we brought these two creatives together in a unique cultural exchange to create a new exhibition of paintings to inspire a new generation to connect to the rainforest.
They worked together in the largest captive rainforest on the planet at the Eden Project to produce a series of new paintings exploring the Spirit of the Rainforest from the Western and Amazonian cultural perspective.
'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.'
Rare - Spiritual rebirth
'These paintings represent the spiritual rebirth of a person who experiences the Yawanawa initiation into becoming a Shamen.' John Dyer
Yuxi Yuve - The Water Spirit of the Amazon Rainforest
'These paintings depict the Spirit of Water who lives in the depths of the great rivers of the Rainforest. Yuxi Yuve is a beautiful woman with long flowing hair, down which water cascades, forging a link connecting the Spirit with all the rivers and everything that is supported in and by the water.' John Dyer
Vana - The Spirit of our Shadows
'These paintings represent the very powerful Vana spirits. They are the guardian angels that protect us from all evil and as such are seen as the Spirit of our own shadow.' John Dyer
The Creation of Uni (Ayahuasca)
'These paintings represent how mortality came to the world and was overcome through the creation of Ayahuasca.' John Dyer
'This painting captures a vision that Nixiwaka Yawanawá had during a tribal ceremony in the Amazon. Nixiwaka described to me how the two most powerful animals of the rainforest appeared, the Boa Constrictor and the Jaguar. These two spirit animals then merged into one animal that was the combination of both spirits. This then transformed into a tribal spirit that connected and exploded its energy to every part of the rainforest.' John Dyer
Further details on the inspiration behind the paintings can be found on the John Dyer website.
The Spirit of the Rainforest project is organised in association with Survival International. Survival is the the global movement for tribal peoples' rights. It champions tribal peoples around the world, helping them defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures. Nixiwaka has spent the past year working for Survival International as part of their educational and outreach programme.