Conservationist, discount artist and activist shares wilderness through images
A dozen images have been mounted on canvas and framed for an exhibition at Timaru's Saffron Gallery Of Art, healing which will open October 18th 2013 and run for two weeks.buy viagra Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.3em;">
The Timaru Courier, Ocotober 17, 2013
THE term ‘‘free spirit’’ is often bandied about to describe this person or that, but surely few South Cantabrians better fit the description than conservation worker, artist and eco›activist Jono More.
› It’s about sharing some nice images of some beautiful creatures. When you work in conservation, you want to share that stuff, and promote the natural world and keep it in people’s minds. ›
— Jono More
The family sheep farm in Totara Valley, near Pleasant Point, appears to be the one constant in a lifestyle that often sees him spending as many nights in a tent as under a roof.
More (30), who returned home earlier this month after wintering over in the United States, said he had never been a permanent employee of any organisation, and found the idea ‘‘scary’’.
He has spent the past 10 years working for the Department of Conservation (Doc) on a seasonal contractual basis, with most of his work revolving around endan› gered species — assessing their populations and providing the department with advice on how to protect them.
The self›described ‘‘nature nut› ter’’ — who went to Pleasant Point primary and high schools before completing a bachelor of science in ecology at the University of Otago — traces his interest in conservation work to when he was 14. Doc researchers were studying the long›tailed bat population at nearby Hanging Rock, and his school teacher told one of them she knew a boy who would love to see one.
As More said, ‘‘the rest is history’’, and his subsequent work for Doc had taken him to the remotest parts of New Zealand — particularly the lower South Island
— where many endangered species were ‘‘just hanging on’’.
‘‘You get dropped off by heli› copter in these remote, amazing places that the public don’t get to see, and experience what New Zealand used to be like.’’
However, some endangered species are closer to home.
In August, More wrote in The Courier about his concern for South Canterbury’s remnant long› tailed bat population.
Restricted mainly to the Opihi catchment, the population may be declining by 5% to 10% every year, he estimates, and may number no more than 100.
In 2008, More’s passion for the natural world gained him national attention — and that of the police
— after he tagged pictures of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins in public places throughout the coun› try to raise awareness of the threats to their habitat.
Although he was arrested, given diversion and fined, he said he had no regrets, pointing out that the issue was as relevant today as it ever was, as the Government considered additional protection measures for the species.
Some of the graffiti can still be seen, including on the ruins of the Pareora Grain Store building near State Highway 1 in St Andrews.
However, More has not only gained prominence for breaking the law.
His wood›block prints of New Zealand trees, particularly cab› bage trees, have been exhibited in galleries from Queenstown to Auckland since 2005.
They began as work towards school certificate art at high school but people started offering to buy them. He has been making them ‘‘on and off’’ ever since, while resisting any thought of making a living from art. ‘‘When you get the inspiration, you go with it but I could never force myself to be a full›time artist.’’ Another passion, travelling, has taken him to wilderness areas in many countries, particularly in the United States, South America and southeast Asia.
However, last year provided the highlight of his overseas experiences, when he spent five months in the Galapagos Islands.
Working for the Charles Darwin Foundation, he assisted Ecuadorean national park workers on several projects, particularly involving bird› life. A series of wildlife photographs, which friends have urged him to exhibit, are a by›product of the experience.
A dozen images have been moun› ted on canvas and framed for an exhibition at Timaru’s Saffron Gallery Of Art, which will open tomorrow and run for two weeks.
‘‘It’s about sharing some nice images of some beautiful creatures.
‘‘When you work in conservation, you want to share that stuff, and promote the natural world and keep it in people’s minds.’’
The islands and their vast array of endemic species were now ‘‘under his skin’’. He had an opportunity to return in the next few months for a position involving more responsibility and time commitment than he was used to, and he said he was now wrestling with the decision.
It’s a tough choice for a free spirit.