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Art for the Environment

Burnt Trees, Trapped Inside 'Greenheart' and Recycled Art on Show in Nairobi

Nairobi/San Francisco, 31 March 2006 --- The Natural World Museum (NWM) is joining forces with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to launch the Art for the Environment initiative. On Friday 31 March, NWM and UNEP will celebrate the launch of the initiative with the opening of the first exhibition at United Nations Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

A series of international exhibitions will be produced to highlight regional environmental issues through the universal language of art, educating and motivating the public to take personal action in local and global conservation efforts. The launch of the initiative also marks the end of Klaus Toepfer’s eight-year tenure as UNEP's Executive Director, and will be part of his farewell reception.

Trapped Inside will be installed at the UNEP grounds in Gigiri on 31 March. It will feature a living tree on life-support designed by French artist J.C. Didier, a work of art commissioned by NWM and donated to UNEP. The African Greenheart (Warburgia Ugandensis), an indigenous evergreen tree, was selected for the installation because it is under environmental pressure, and is also used for traditional medicine.

"Trapped Inside symbolizes both destruction and regeneration. It gives us a glimpse of the future and puts us in close relationship to a nature in jeopardy and nature at a crossroads," said Mr Didier. "A message that Trapped Inside sends, is that we need to step carefully as we walk into the future. For the sake of future generations, we need to use our wisdom now."

The installation will be dedicated to Klaus Toepfer as a tribute for his years of service to UNEP and in gratitude for his efforts toward utilizing art to educate the public about the global environment.

Another installation, Booked Out is an installation of recycled books and papers from the United Nations by Samuel Fleiner of Germany. He also presents RE-ART ONe, a collection of 128 pieces of art made from recycled waste materials. RE-ART ONe is the first international art collection that focuses exclusively on art and design made from recycled waste materials. It was first presented in Hamburg, Germany in 2004 and so far more than 30,000 visitors, including many school children, have seen the exhibition.

"Sustainability is at the heart of my projects," Samuel Fleiner said about his work. "I organize events that involve people in new environmental thinking, taking raw material that has already lived and, through art, is recycled into a positive medium."

RE-ART ONe today includes works of 51 artists, designers and craftsmen from 15 different countries. All works are made from different waste materials, such as aluminium cans, scrap metal, plastic or paper waste. A selection of 128 works is currently on show at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi.

The exhibition, in Nairobi, will also include Arbres Brûlés, an installation of 45 burnt trees turned into sculpture by Philippe Pastor, an artist based in Monaco. “I saw the fire burning down the mountain. I cannot resign myself to such destruction and I don’t want to forget. Looking at such mutilated nature, I am horrified and feel a deep feeling of rebellion towards the authors of this disfigurement… This scene of desolation is nothing but a mirror of our society,” said Philippe Pastor about what inspired him in this work.

The sculptures were created from the calcified trunks of trees of the forest of Garde Freinet (Var, southern France), which were devastated during the summer of 2003 by arson. By turning them into art, these large trees, some of which are more than a century old, are given new life. Through his work, the artist expresses his anger at this wanton destruction and wishes to sensitize the world to the damage caused by forest fires and to the need to preserve our natural resources.

“Art is the cornerstone of conservation and the emblem of civilization,” said Mia Hanak, Executive Director of NWM. “NWM’s exhibits are exciting in what they showcase, but they are also important as a focal point where the public can interact and be part of an environmental community.”

“Seeing this art will generate significant public awareness of environmental issues globally,” said Dr. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

In the words of Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General: “Art opens new doors for learning, understanding, and peace among people and nations.”

As part of the ceremony, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Professor Wangari Maathai will show her support for Art for the Environment by speaking about how the three art installations are related to trees and deforestation.

Notes for editors:

Pictures of the current exhibit are available to download at http://www.unep.org.

The next NWM exhibition will be housed at City Hall in San Francisco, California in June, to commemorate World Environment Day 2006.

The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, sends his City’s official endorsement of Art for the Environment to be announced at the ceremony in Nairobi. San Francisco was the host city for UNEP’s World Environment Day in 2005, which featured an art exhibit designed by NWM, highlighting works of art from more than 60 environmental artists and drawing crowds of 10,000 visitors over five days.

Also in June 2006, NWM will produce an environmental art exhibit as part of this year's World Environment Day celebrations, which will be hosted in Algiers, Algeria. NWM will call for local artists to exhibit their work in partnership with other artists from around the world. This year's World Environment Day theme is deserts and desertification. For more information see http://www.unep.org/wed/2006.

All the participants in Art for the Environment global exhibits will be considered for the Green Leaf Award, honouring five artists for their creative excellence.

For information on the Natural World Museum, these and other initiatives, as well as information for artists' submissions, please contact Mia Hanak, Executive Director, Natural World Museum; Tel: +1 - 415- 378-6497; e-mail info@naturalworldmuseum.org.

RE-ART ONe is sponsored by the German Federal Environment Foundation, the BINGO! Environmental Foundation of Lower Saxony, the German Ministry of

Foreign Affairs, Hapag Lloyd Container line, Bayer East Africa Ltd., the chocolate company Ritter Sport, and many local businesses from the North Sea Region. It is part of the European Union initiative “Making Waste Work”.

Once RE-ART ONe leaves Nairobi, it is available for any institution of the world, and limited funding might be available. For more information, please contact Samuel J. Fleiner, Association for Arts, Health and Education; Tel: +49 6223 970051, Fax: +49 6223 970052; e-mail: fleiner@langenzell.de

Further information on Philippe Pastor and his work, including a DVD documenting the artist's work – from the cutting of the trees to the exhibition of the sculptures – can be obtained from Martine Sarfati Communication; Tel. / Fax : + 33 (0)4 93 81 47 56; Mobile: + 33 (0)6 60 92 32 06; e-mail: martine.sarfati@wanadoo.fr

You can also visit the website: www.philippe-pastor.com

For more information, please contact:

Eric Falt, UNEP Director, Division of Communications and Public Information; Tel: +254 20 762 3292; Mobile: 254 733 682 656; e-mail: eric.falt@unep.org

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, Office of the Executive Director; Tel: +254 20 762 3084; Mobile: + 254 733 632 755; e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

If there is no prompt response, please contact Elisabeth Waechter, UNEP Associate Media Officer, on Tel: + 254 20 762 3088, Mobile: +254 720 173968, E-mail: elisabeth.waechter@unep.org.




Further Resources

Natural World Museum (NWM)

Photo Gallery

Philippe Pastor
Further information on Philippe Pastor and his work.

Samuel Fleiner
Further information on Samuel Fleiner and his work.

First international art collection that focuses exclusively on art and design made from recycled waste materials.

World Environment Day 2006

World Environment Day 2005
Hosted in San Francisco, California, USA.


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