From Africa with Love: Alison Nicholls’ Conservation Sketching Expeditions

The past year has been an eye opener when it comes to understanding the impact we have on our environment and vice versa. There’s no denying that the effects of global warming and urbanization are grave for both humans and animals. Over the past decade or so, many animals have suffered due to lack of food and habitation, change in weather, and displacement. And as 2022 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife are facing an array of environmental issues we have yet to untangled.

Artist Alison Nicholls hopes to draw attention to some of these issues through her art and workshops. Inspired by the African landscape, Nicholls works with conservation organizations and leads “Art Safaris”, with the goal to promote awareness about conservation issues.

“Everywhere people are suffering physically, financially and mentally from the pandemic and obviously this includes many Africans who work in tourism, wildlife research or conservation,” she explains in a blog post. According to Nicholls, vital conservation work involves people rather than wildlife. “Reducing human-wildlife conflict, conducting anti-poaching patrols, or helping rural people find sustainable income-generating opportunities are all conservation activities that help people but also ensure the continued existence of endangered species,” she notes.

And then there’s Nicholls art. Focused mainly on animals, her practice includes field sketches created while on the go. Having lived in Botswana and Zimbabwe for several years, Nicholls often returns to Africa, where she finds inspiration. As part of her work, she conducts Conservation Sketching Expeditions, teaching others to follow her lead. “I use the resulting sketches and paintings to raise awareness and funds for the organizations’ field work,” she explains on her website. “These visits also inspired the creation of a growing body of conservation and environmental-themed paintings based on issues I have encountered in the field.”

Her original pieces can be bought online, through her Etsy shop, with a portion of the sales donated to African conservation organizations.