Sustainable art

Some of the art created by Ndebele villagers in the Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe.

ECO warrior and artist Basil Schur is giving back to his homeland by raising funds for murals on huts in the villages of Zimbabwe.

Schur grew up on a farm near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, but in 1981 when he was a teen his parents decided to relocate the family to Perth.

Since arriving in WA he’s become a conservationist-cum-artist and for the past three decades has worked for the community group Green Skills in Denmark, facilitating eco-restoration, wetland conservation and eco-art.

One of his most significant projects has been the Gondwana Link, which aims to reconnect natural habitat across a 1000km stretch of country between Margaret River, along the lowerSouth West and through theGreat Western Woodlands aroundNorseman.

Schur says he tries to bring Noongar, non-Aboriginal artists and conservationists together to work on eco projects.

“Since Gondwana Link began twenty years ago, it has developed not just into an eco restoration program, but also one promoting cultural connections to country,” he says.

“It has actively involved working with Noongar elders and younger people in an exciting program of connecting to Boodja (or land in Noongar language). 

“I have helped facilitate a Gondwana Connections art and cultural program that has run art, photography, film making and other cultural projects directly linking to caring for and restoring our environment.”

Despite living in WA for four decades, Schur has never forgotten his Zimbabwean roots and next Saturday he will auction his abstract watercolour paintingsto raise money for My BeautifulHome, a project which encourages Ndebele villagers in the MatoboHills, near his hometown, to decorate their thatched homes using traditional painting techniques with only mud and sand mixed with natural pigments. 

Awards are given for the best decoration and My Beautiful Home also supports sustainable living projects including the use of eco-stoves, beekeeping and providing fruit trees for local schools and villagers. 

A self-taught artist, Schur says he is a bit of a wanderlust and often paints en plein air during his travels across rural south west WA.

“I have a particular interest in art that promotes an awareness of Gaia, Our Living Earth,” he says.

“I do appreciate creating art while out camping and engaging with our forests, coastline and woodland environments. 

“My works are primarily abstract water colours which explore the ways water shapes landscapes and pattern at both the planetary and micro scales.

“I love contemplating on how our Earth looks like from out of space…completely mesmerising.”

Schur has also has an interest in eco architecture and initiated the Peace Sanctuary, a cultural and sustainable building in Denmark with passive lighting and a native garden roof.

Prior to the auction at the SHAC Gallery in White Gum Valley on Saturday October 2, Schur will give an illustrated talk on the Gondwana Connections Art Program.

The gallery opens at 10am with the talk at 2pm, the auction at 3pm and a garden party at 4pm.

The event is free and the gallery is on Cower Mews.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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