The painting ‘Mystery Tree’, an original painting by Taskin Butt created in 2015 inspired by nature, and the trees that grow in Kenya that were once abundant but have begun to reduce with time due to deforestation and the illegal and unlawful cutting down of trees. In the painting, the colours in the background are symbolic of the hope to achieve a future free of deforestation where we care, preserve and protect these majestic and unique natural resources. The scratches created using textured paint are symbolic of the death of trees lost through deforestation.
The reason I choose to participate in the World Citizen Artists One for All Competition was because I feel there are certain deep rooted issues in our community a society that can be addressed through ‘art’. I strongly believe that issues for example, environmental protection, poverty and gender rights and equality need to be highlighted.
Personally, my passion for protecting the environment and nature comes from having studied about the Environment and also having the deep realization that we are overexploiting our natural resources especially those finite resources on a local and global level and should be turning to better ways to protect, sustain and protect these resources for example through planting trees, using solar, geothermal and wind energy and also protecting vital endangered species in the world from being wiped out entirely for example coral reefs, certain wildlife for example rhino, leopard and turtles species as well as many flora species.
My painting ‘Mystery Tree’ is among some of my paintings on the topic of protecting environment and I consider it has influenced me to further create more awareness through my art of topical and pressing issues. I also believe that by creating awareness of such issues through art we can multiply the positive effect of taking action to create unity of purpose and hope for the future.
In my local community of Nairobi in Kenya, artists have collaborated to create art with a purpose through group exhibitions. And personally I have also had environmentally themed solo exhibitions for example’ Landscape of Dreams’ and ‘Treasures of Nature’, which were two solo exhibitions this year in which some of my paintings regarding nature were displayed.
The paintings were appreciated and event organizers have enquired on the story behind every piece and requested me to give talks on my art, my journey through the art world and my paintings. The positive response from exhibitions resulted in local press coverage including in the Coast Week, Smart Choice and Asian Weekly as well as also a YouTube video released titled ‘ Against Exhibition of Trees’ that highlights my paintings with reference to reasons behind saving trees. A percentage of the sales of those paintings have been assigned towards raising awareness for preservation and conservation of forests & nature.
It gives me a lot of satisfaction when I am contacted by visitors of my exhibitions that they have a solar energy company, have started a local tree planting club or have a recycled material shop as it makes me feel that the issue of environmental protection reaches out to community and artistic expression is a vehicle that can be utilized to further strengthen the cause.
I believe strongly Education is the key to a brighter future for humanity and that is why I feel that contributions towards Gua Africa and such NGOs certainly pave the way for stronger involvement of our communities in reaching out to touch lives and give access to people to achieve their fuller potential.
My advice to artists is to keep expressing themselves and creating meaningful art that speaks on issues that are close to them. Small steps have the potential to pave the path to victory & big change. By continuing to create art with a positive purpose I believe we can help our communities and indeed the world outside of ourselves to address the issues of environmental protection and take steps to create a better life for our future generations.