Rainforest Solutions Project

Promoting conservation and economic alternatives in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest


Island artist’s work reflects on rainforest

July 11, 2012

A Vancouver Island artist has applied his creativity to a cause, as a finalist in a competition designed to draw attention to the Great Bear Rainforest.

Facebook users named an illustration by Nanaimo resident Rob Plante to the Top Five in Great Bear’s Got Talent, a competition organized through the Rainforest Solutions Project.

“It’s pretty difficult not to get inspired by big forests,” said Plante, 52, who moved to Nanaimo from the Netherlands three years ago with his wife and three sons.

Entrants were asked to create an homage to the rainforest. Organizers received 106 entries.

Plante’s piece, titled Facing Yourself, shows a kermode, or spirit bear – a species unique to the rainforest – touching its reflection in the water’s surface as a salmon swims past. While he has painted realistic wildlife scenes, he hopes the simpler illustrated approach he took will give the piece more commercial appeal and encourage tourism in the region.

“What I wanted to express in the illustration was not specifically the story of the rainforest,” he said. “I wanted to show – through a more modern approach, a more funny approach, a more illustrative approach – that the Great Bear Rainforest is just like other nature reserves in the world: a place that you can protect and also sell to tourists to enjoy.”

Valerie Langer of ForestEthics Solutions, one of three environmental groups behind the Rainforest Solutions Project, said the contest was a way to engage the public in environmental issues.

“The average person doesn’t negotiate with government, doesn’t negotiate with companies and wonders how they can help,” she said. “This was a way for people who have a really creative bent to pull out their support.”

The other finalists are Laura Wasylyshen, Susan Rankin, Daisy Gilardini and Sonali Shah. A five-person committee will today select the winner, who will receive a trip for two donated by Spirit Bear Lodge.