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Art that Connects Children and Nature

Annika Funke, who was born in Germany, is a self-taught artist who lives and paints in Namibia and has recently launched the Kayamoja ArtConnects Trust, which aims to create the opportunity for impoverished Namibian children to see, meet and learn about wildlife and wildlife conservation as well as art.

dsc_5878-copy“I started this trust to connect people with wildlife. I started by working with the Hope Village Orphanage. The children are taken on trips to wildlife sanctuary where they are given a chance to see and learn about wildlife and wildlife conservation. Then drawing and painting encourages the children to see the true beauty of animals, art makes you take a closer look.” says Annika.

In an interview 99FM’s MYD Art did with Annika earlier this year, she explained that she knew that coming to Africa was always the goal not only for her creative expression but also for her soul. “I studied African science just to be able to go to Africa one day. I used to work as a journalist and I would spend all my time in the zoo of Koln. I came to Africa so that I could be with the animals and be where the animals live. Being an artist is about producing everything about who you are and so I felt that I needed to have the real experience myself, in order to tell a story that is real.” For the full article click here

dsc_6142-copy“I have a personal story that connects me to nature, that bond is beautiful and that is what ArtConnect is recreating; personal stories; personal experiences. The children that I have taught now, these amazing children, they didn’t know the difference between a Zebra and a Giraffe. The first time they saw a Wildebeest, they said wow, perfect, perfect. They were so excited they kept saying oh man, this is amazing. What are they going to do when they see elephants? It is a memory, it’s a positive memory, and I want to make these trips as beautiful as possible for the children.”

dsc_5797-copy“That’s why it is important to create the opportunity for great encounters and real memories with animals in young age, what will grow into real appreciation for what the animals truly are: an amazing gift and enrichment to this planet and not our property.”

Until now, the project has been financed with the selling of Annika’s original art works but she has plans to connect more artists and art institutions to the project and expand it to more children around Namibia. Her goal is fast becoming a reality as world renowned wildlife artists have joined her initiative through donating their artwork to raise funds for the Kayamoja ArtConnects Trust.

016Right now, I’m busy putting a tool kit together for the teachers of schools in Namibia, so that children from all over the country can follow wildlife art topics in the same way we do on our trips and to participate in our upcoming Kayamoja ArtConnects Wildlife Exhibition 2018 Newcomers competition. We learn about the wild dog, for example, and then look at how to paint the wild dog. We want to encourage children from all over the country to enter their wildlife art in our exhibition.”

“I believe conservation begins with education. This is where I see myself as being able to make a change. It is about awakening a passion dsc_6614-copyand empathy, stimulating awareness in the younger generations. I believe we need to inspire love for wildlife because what we learn to love, we learn to respect.”

If you want to support this project or find out about the paintings and art prints that are available for Kayamoja ArtConnects Trust, take a look at their website by clicking here

Or get in touch with Annika Funke through her website by clicking here