Artists make a plea for conservation

Picture a world where the world is luscious and green, a place where our ecosystem thrived and our wildlife existed harmoniously and wandered freely. Using art as a tool, this is the world that the organization Artists for Conservation strives to achieve. The annual Artists for Conservation Festival is to be held Sept. 27–Oct. 5 atop scenic Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. 80 artists spanning five continents have their works displayed. The festival aims to inspire and educate the public, and give artists whose focus is on nature and wildlife the platform to display their works.

AFC’s vision to inspire the world to cherish and protect nature by making conservation a core cultural value. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible through a range of engaging and inspiring cultural and educational programming,” says Founder and President Jeff Whiting.

Visitors are invited to take in the sights and sound of nature and experience the world through the eyes and works of 80 internationally recognised artists, at the top of one of Vancouver’s peaks. An international independent jury composed of a combination of artists, art publishers and museum curators carefully select the artists that will be profiled in the exhibit.

Chris McClelland in Zimbabwe | Photo courtesy of Chris McClelland

Chris McClelland in Zimbabwe | Photo courtesy of Chris McClelland

Artists from everywhere

Australian artist Chris McClelland’s drawing A Formidable Display will be displayed at the festival’s gallery. In an email interview, McClelland talks about the love he shared for Africa as a continent. His father was deployed to Juba, South Sudan at British Staging Post during the WWII, and the wilderness of the continent has stuck with him.

“When [my dad] returned from the war I was almost four years old and I remember him bringing home a leopard skin that he had shot after it was suspected of killing a native child in a village near the Juba airbase. The skin of the man-eater lay in pride of place on our sitting room floor. And for some unknown reason I secretively went to my mother’s sowing basket and after selecting a pair of shiny dress-making scissors, cut off all the leopard’s whiskers! My father was devastated.”

This was a catalyst to his love for continent, and has given him a lot of satisfaction and he documents the wilderness with defined movement and story in his artwork.

Each of his art pieces take over 300 hours to complete and consequently he only produces a handful of pieces a year. His selection for the exhibit depends on whether he has sold any of his pieces, and a major wildlife study that would be of a standard of workmanship suitable for an international exhibition.

Varda Breger from Israel is another artist featured in the gallery. She has displayed her work at more than 25 solo exhibitions, as well as international symposiums. A deeper understanding of the environmental problems of our planet has motivated
her art.

She says, “My works deal mainly in the lack of balance between progress and nature, which is manifested especially in the disappearing variety of wildlife. I believe that all the inhabitants of our unique planet are parts of a chain, linked together, and depend on each other.”

Breger uses mixed media techniques to showcase the impact of humans on the vulnerable –
streams of dilute paint cage blurred and trampled animals, birds and women. Tire and shoe prints over the painting indicate the conquering of civilization.

A formidable display by Chris McClelland | Photo courtesy of Chris McClelland

A formidable display by Chris McClelland | Photo courtesy of Chris McClelland

Benefit for all

The festival gives artists the opportunity to showcase their art at an international platform and get further international exposure. It allows artists to connect with other as well as the public, with contributing to one of their passions – environmental sustainability. At least 40 per cent of proceeds from artwork go towards a conservation organisation of the artists’ choosing.

Visitors to the festival not only get to marvel and purchase the art, but they also benefit from guest lectures given by prominent international artists, live art demos, youth art workshops, artists demonstrations as well as a Meet-the-Artist Wine and Cheese event.

For more information about the festival, go to

To view more of Chris McClelland’s work, visit To view more of Varda Breger’s work, visit