Thought-provoking British artist Josef O’Connor is urging environmentally minded art-lovers to help him save one of the world’s most threatened biomes from extinction.
Known for challenging convention and championing art with a purpose, O’Connor is looking to sell 100 prints of his Royal Academy Winter Exhibition work Going, Going, Gone to fund the £20,000 purchase of a single plot of endangered habitat in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.
Large-scale deforestation means only 7% of the original Atlantic Forest remains, but successfully securing buyers for O’Connor’s latest project will see 20 hectares of the region brought under the protection of UK-based, international conservation charity World Land Trust – saving it from illegal logging and protecting some of the world’s most threatened species.
“We all know our way of life is killing the planet, so we have a clear choice – either take responsibility for our actions and work together to bring about positive change, or face the stark reality that the ecosystems we all rely on will soon be lost forever,” O’Connor says, adding: “Going, Going, Gone was conceived to encourage people to be part of the solution. It’s a great opportunity to be part of something truly transformational, so I’m hopeful it will really appeal to those determined to make a difference.”
Going, Going, Gone is being displayed at the Royal Academy’s new Winter Exhibition – the first in its 252-year history after the gallery was forced to delay its annual Summer Exhibition due to Covid-19.
On show until 3rd January 2021, the complete work features a visual representation of the proposed area to be saved. Lot 44 is a screen-print onto an aerial photograph of the region, with 100 prints available at £400 each to raise £20,000. Each print sold in the edition equates to 0.5 acres.
Eileen Cooper RA adds, “The focus of art has changed a lot since the very first Royal Academy Summer Exhibition took place in 1796. From painting landscapes to saving them, we are all at a turning point and hope that this innovative work succeeds in helping to protect Lot 44 of The Atlantic Forest and create a safe space for wildlife to roam for years to come.”
Acquisition of the proposed areas will support WLT and local partner Reserva Ecologica de Guapiaçu (REGUA’s) long-term vision for enhanced connectivity between forest areas in the Guapiaçu Watershed. The areas are primarily forested but include 0.6 hectares of pasture which will be reforested by REGUA – further expanding the coverage of this vulnerable habitat and providing a new home for many threatened species.
Dan Bradbury, Director of Communications, World Land Trust, comments: “Josef’s passion for protecting the planet clearly mirrors our own, so we’re delighted to be working with him on this ground-breaking project and bringing our cause to a whole new audience.
“We know that joining the dots between far distant rainforests and the future of humanity can sometimes be hard for people to grasp, but as our very own patron Sir David Attenborough has made abundantly clear in recent weeks – the time for action to save biodiverse hotspots like the Atlantic Forest has never been more urgent, and this is a fantastic way for art lovers to get involved and show they care.”