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Article: Our Favourite Game-Changing 'Artivists'

Our Favourite Game-Changing 'Artivists'

Our Favourite Game-Changing 'Artivists'

Did you know that the oceans provide 50% of the oxygen we breathe?


Image: John Asbury

The United Nations World Wildlife Day 2019 is a global celebration of the many beautiful and varied forms of wild animals and plants on our planet, as well as the immeasurable benefits they provide to people. This year, World Wildlife Day is celebrated with the theme "Life below water: for people and planet".


Image: Will Asbury

Our oceans don't just provide endless spiritual, cultural and aesthetic value, they are also described as "the lungs of Earth" and provide a plethora of ecosystem services. A report, commissioned by WWF, states the asset value of oceans is $24 trillion and values the annual “goods and services” it provides, such as food, at $2.5 trillion. Marine life has sustained human populations for millennia and today over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.

Despite our dependence on the oceans, in the past 50 years, we have over exploited, polluted and warmed the oceans through our actions. So much so that it's estimated by 2100 more than half the world's marine species may stand on the brink of extinction.

The relationship between art and activism is closer than ever, to the extent, it has been granted a new term: artivism. 

Artivism is defined as an explosion of creativity, a marrying of art and activism. In a world of radical and, sometimes, militant activism, art acts as a conduit for peaceful protest that breaks language barriers and gives a voice to the species at the forefront of the ocean crisis.

Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans is PangeaSeed Foundation's public art initiative that "brings the message of ocean conservation to streets around the globe by collaborating with a community of over 200 artists creating nearly 300 murals across the globe". This World Wildlife Day we thought it would be a great opportunity to share with you our favourite 10 artists making waves in environmental artivism.

Cracked Ink

Image: Tre Packard

Originally from the UK but now residing in New Zealand, we love Cracked Ink's quirky vibe. This eye-catching piece, named "you are what you eat", depicts a world left that has left behind nothing but trash. Recent research states 56% of whale and dolphin species have been recorded eating marine plastics they've mistaken for food. 


Image: Tre Packard

Spencer Keeton-Cunningham

Image: Spencer Keeton Cunningham

Spencer Keeton Cunningham, an American painter and filmmaker,  "wanted to create a world within the surrounding area of this wall where the sharks have actually taken on human characteristics and have come to land to take revenge for being finned and stand their ground." This mural can be seen in Napier, New Zealand.

Gina Kiel

Image: Gina Kiel

"The wave forming in stages internally through the deconstructed parts of the Sealion represents the sea as the emotion of nature that is currently trying to communicate to us the effects of our destructive actions. Sea lion population numbers have halved and could halve and halve again until extinction within the years of my generation. We have the opportunity to collectively rise with this tide into a new state of awareness where we can live in harmony with nature and all her beings.


Image: Gina Kiel

After I had sketched up the Sea Lion I discovered a leaking water pipe unintentionally positioned in the heart/shoulder of the Seal, I felt like it was significant so I painted a blue heart around it. We are all made of water."
- Gina Kiel 


Image: Gina Kiel

Kai'ili Kaulukukui

“Oceanic tides connect us all, whether we live in a coastal town, inland or even in the mountains, tides affect our lives. The amount of plastics in the sea has been increasing and is reaching scary levels of saturation and much of the floating garbage is at the mercy of the tides and winds. Nearly everything we use has some attachment to plastic, and unfortunately, time and time again those plastics end up in the sea. We have to stay vigilant about every plastic straw, bag, single-use bottle and cap, cigarette and candy wrapper and so much more, that we drop on the ground, as it eventually ends up in the ocean harming ecosystems and the animals that live there. 

The oceanic composition in “High Tides/ Low Tides” is meant to represent the change in tidal movements throughout the year. The moon phase is stuck on full to indicate the maximum effect of the process and to strengthen the idea of the power caused by a full moon. The large red sun is layered over the ocean as a reminder that a large chunk of our trash is from Japan and other countries far across the sea. The subdued color palette is meant to represent the lost lustre of plastics as they are heated in the sun and broken down into microplastics. The honu who is stuck in the lines and plastic represents us, people stuck in their ways and trapped by routine. The swimmer reaching to pull off the debris is a Keiki, the literal representation of our future, and the idea of positive change that can be obtained.”

Lauren Brevner
Image: Lauren Brevner
“Inspired by Hawaiian mythology, I choose to represent the topic of overfishing with my interpretation of the sea goddess Nāmakaokahaʻi. Her waters are seen as empty and lacking life, this visual combined with a limited palette emphasizes a loss of colour and vibrancy that our oceans once had. Highlighting a netted parrotfish (a species that is integral to the protection of coral reef health) which are severely overfished in Hawaii is another reminder of the many ways overfishing has an impact on our oceans. As an ARTivist, it was very important to me to create a piece that was visually engaging, easy to understand and positive while still carrying a clear message.”



Image: Tre Packard

“This mural painted in Churchill, Manitoba (Canada), the polar bear capital of the world, represents the forced journey of a family of bears and belugas during their last winter on Earth. The cub grabs its treasured iceberg, which helps it to escape from the human impact on Earth.” 

This is one of 16 art walls painted in Churchill, after they have experienced a difficult few years including the closure of their port and two massive snowstorms that damaged their railway beyond repair, causing food and fuel prices to rise. Residents of Churchill have described these murals as a much-needed lift that make you think about the future."

Sonny Sundancer

Image: Tre Packard

"In Maori cosmology, whales are the descendants of Tangaroa, the god of the oceans and are revered as sacred, supernatural beings. In honour of what these majestic creatures mean to the Maori people, this mighty humpback whale is called ‘Tutara’, painted in New Zealand for PangeaSeed Sea Walls. 

Just as the Maori people recognize and respect these magnificent creatures as sacred and wise guides for life, so should we all start realizing that these animals are intricately linked to us." 

Sonny managed to finish his life-size mural ahead of time, so what better way to pass time than painting a second mural.


Image: Tre Packard


The beauty of this initiative is that there is no language or cultural barriers, art is a unifying language that speaks to all. Interpret these as you will, but one message is clear: we need to start respecting mother nature better if we are to hope for a future on Earth.

For tips and tricks on how to live a more sustainable life have a read of our previous blog post by clicking here.

Happy World Wildlife Day! #DoOneThingToday


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