“Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as human nature.  There is only Nature and the very human expression of it.  To understand this is to understand the significance of what we need to do if we are to restore the lost balance.  Our task is not to go back to Nature but to give back to Nature.  How about half of our energy, our thoughts, our language and our hearts?  Nature needs it and Nature will give back,” Ian McCallum, UNTAMED, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town (South Africa).

When wild-nature seems far away – either physically because we have not made time to find nature in our lives or psychologically because we are, for one reason or another, unable to feels a meaningful connection to the nature around us – it is art that can reconnect us. Photography, sculpture, poetry, dance and song, poetry, painting — all of these provide avenues for us to express our wild selves and connect with the inner and outer ‘wildness’ that is so vital for humanity.

We had the great honor of visiting the UNTAMED exhibit at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.  With poetry by Ian McCallum, sculpture by Dylan Lewis and architecture by Enrico Daffonchio, this exhibit is an extraordinary example of the value and necessity of art in conservation.

The emotion expressed and evoked in this exhibit reaffirmed for me that along with astute scientists, field researchers and other ‘technical’ experts, the environmental movement needs communicators and artists.

I’d like to share the poem from the exhibit that spoke most deeply to me.  The message — in order to affect real, positive and lasting change, we must sync our inner and outer wildness.  We must be true to ourselves, as human-animals, and project that truth and sincerity outwards.

You have come this far…
Keep moving…don’t turn back.
No one holds the measure
of their own undoing…no one,
the meaning of their dying.
Hold what lives
behind the masks
of your own making…
the music of your wild name
know that every tumble,
every turn on your twisting path
is a dance within a living
church of elements
sanctuary of stars
wings, breath and bone
where the mask of your making
are undone
~ Ian McCallum, UNTAMED, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town (South Africa)

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