A British artist who’s seen firsthand the devastating effects of deforestation has used money raised through the sales of her paintings to help protect the Brazilian rainforest.
In 2019, the Amazon saw a spike in the number of criminal fires and the world turned its attention to the region.
The increase is largely attributed to Brazilian fascist President Bolsonaro, whose rhetoric encourages landgrabbers to act without fear of punishment.
Jelly Green, 27, spent two months in the Amazon to see first-hand the exuberance of the forest.
However, it was the devastation she saw she decided to depict in her paintings as a way to tell the world what was happening.
She donated £9,000 (US$11,800) to help purchase a piece of land in Rio de Janeiro. “It is a small amount, but that is what I could do,” she tells the BBC.
Love for nature
Green studied art with the British painter and sculptor Maggi Hambling. Her love for forests goes back to her childhood, when she lived in Australia.
Back in the UK as an adult, she researched online which art schools could put her back in touch with the forest.
The research led her to a tree house with no electricity and no Wi-Fi in the middle of a tropical forest in Brazil. The nearest village was 12 miles away.
The forest inspired watercolors canvases depicting a broad spectrum of flora and fauna. “I was so impressed with the mystery and beauty of the place,” she tells.
More than the beauty of the forest, the deforestation Green saw in Brazil as well as Sri Lanka and New Zealand were to have a lasting impact.
“I remember driving through huge palm tree plantations, which would take seven hours to cross. It is frightening,” she says.
In Borneo, she saw orangutans, monkeys and elephants on river banks. She remembers finding the image fantastic, until her guide told her that happened because animals had nowhere to go after their habitats had been invaded.
She became obsessed with the topic. “I’ve never seen a forest fire. But I started to focus on deforestation. It is much bleaker than what I had set myself up to do, but I could not escape it.”
The land bought with the profits of her exhibition, which sold out, will be managed by Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (Regua), a Brazilian NGO focused on the preservation of the Guapiaçu river basin in the southeast of Brazil.
The NGO has planted more than 500,000 trees in the last 20 years.
The money donated was used to buy farmland that will now be preserved as tropical rainforest.
“I hope the forest remains untouched and unharmed and can continue to be home to wildlife and and the trees that live in it,” says the artist.