Hi, l am an artiist diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, living on the south Norfolk/ Suffolk border.
I spent three weeks backpacking in Malaysian Borneo in February of this year, finally realising a 20 year long dream. Although the amount of deforestation is constantly in the news, it is not until you witness it first hand that you truly grasp the scale of it. I was greatly sadenned by what I saw and the sheer scale of oil palm plantations that have replaced what was once primary rain forest but in spite of this, I fell in love with this country and its people.
The Penan Tribe were once a nomadic tribe living in the rainforest which supported their way of life. They are no nomadic tribal members left; they have either been forced to move into concrete settlements built by the government, or have decided to make their own settlements as there simply is not sufficient forest left to support their traditional way of life. This has happenned over less than 40 years!
Similarly, the Berawan People who lived in close knit communities within wooden long houses; a way of life that had existed throughout the centuries. Their way of life although static, also depended upon the rainforest whilst also planting crops and fruit trees. Their land has been torn up by the loggers and their main way of earning a living is now through the tourist trade, setting up backpackers bed and breakfast homestays.
I have organised an exhibition in Kuching, Borneo to help raise funds for the Kuching Autistic Association which is something very close to my heart. They have achieved a great deal since its formation in 1998, raising awareness and providing much needed support and education for those on the spectrum and their families. (Left is a picturre of me with one of the support staff at the K.A.A. when I visited for an afternoon in February). 50% of sales will go to the Association.
From my share, l will donate at least 50% to the Bruno Manser Fonds charity who help fight logging and indigenous land rights, specifically in the Sarawak region of Malaysian Borneo. (Left is an image from the Bruno Manser Fonds website asking for support to help save the Mulu rainforest which is under threat of logging.)
I would like to raise funds to help cover my travel and luggage costs.
Below is a selection of the artwork that I will be taking with me. I hope to complete 15 pieces, all of which are oil paint on gold leaf on board, each 9 x 12 ins.
The symbolism of the gold leaf is twofold, firstly it represents the immense wealth that has been made by a few from logging the forest and then replanting oil palm which is now a massive global commodity which can only be gown in tropical conditions. Secondly, together with the relatively small size of the work, it represents how prescious the small pockets that remain are not only to the fauna and flora that they provide a home for but also for the future of our planet.
Any help, no matter how small would be incredibly appreciated. Thankyou for reading.