Mart Aveling is an artivist whose passion for wildlife was born out of his surroundings at a young age. While his parents were working to protect mountain gorillas on the steep forested slopes of the Virunga volcanoes, Mart picked up pencils and drew them.
Mart has been shortlisted for the finals of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation ‘Wildlife Artist of the Year’ competition (WAY) the most number of times, and in 2021 he was awarded the inaugural ‘David Shepherd Art of Survival Award’.
With 'Sudan' - the last male northern white rhino. Ol Pejeta, Kenya.
Mart coined the phrase ‘wildlife artivism’ in an effort to encourage stronger calls to actions in the creative output of working wildlife artists.
“Things move so quickly these days that without ever showing the ugly side of protecting wildlife people risk forgetting it’s even there. We can’t expect people to feel motivated to take action to protect wildlife if they think everything is OK. By highlighting, in art, the challenges faced by wildlife, it presents a more balanced and honest narrative. Art has an amazing way of letting us contemplate certain uncomfortable truths in a more palatable space. Good wildlife artivism doesn’t ever compromise on sincerity.”
Mart was instrumental in establishing a new category at WAY for young artists, ‘Human Impact’. The brief is to tell a conservation story in an artwork, and the category is open to artists between 16-22 years. In 2020 Mart created ‘The Ingrid Beazley Award’ for the winning artist, comprising a grant worth £5,000, designed to support wildlife, encourage creativity and tackle the growing issue of eco-anxiety.
Mart is currently exploring web3 technology to launch re-wilding projects and help amplify the message of environmental justice. He has partnered with Wild Philanthropy to curate a high utility NFT artwork collection, which they hope will galvanise people enthusiastic about restoring nature. This unique project adopts a community led approach to conservation, so that the people living closest to wildlife are rewarded for helping to protect it. The focus of the work is on Kenya, where Mart lived for a quarter of his life. His motivation is to give back to a country that gave him such a happy childhood.
Mart is a signature member of ‘Artists For Conservation’ and global ambassador for Derwent Pencils. His work has been auctioned in London and Paris, and he has supported several charity auctions hosted by Christie’s and Sotheby’s by donating artwork. He has staged successful solo exhibitions in Kenya, the UK and the USA, and has raised £50,000 for wildlife charities from the sale of his art.
Mart currently lives in Bristol with his family; Amy, Marella and Jack.
Drawing of a Hyacinth macaw for Derwent's pastel pencil range.