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Cy Baker’s Journey to Uganda

We’re thrilled to share the first glimpse of Cy Baker’s spectacular Uganda Untamed exhibition, which will be presented alongside this year’s Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition at the Mall Galleries.  

Cy Baker is our overall Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022 Winner, and as part of this extraordinary honour, he visited our project partners in Uganda.  

Now, hear from Cy and let him take you on his journey to the savannah: 

‘DSWF’s Wildlife Artist of the Year has become my artistic home for many years. It was one of the first open exhibitions I entered when first starting out on the journey of an independent artist. It was also the place I exhibited my first piece of art done in biro. So, to have been announced as the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022 was an extraordinary moment that defies explanation or description. My wife and I will never forget it, and it’s the highlight of my career by some margin! 

The trip itself took place in February this year and was an extraordinary trip in so many ways. I suppose there were three main things that had a huge impact on us. The fantastic work of the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF), the hardship endured by most of the local population and, or course, the wildlife itself.’

Artwork by: Cy Baker

About Uganda Conservation Foundation

‘The work undertaken by the UCF team is truly exceptional.  

It’s run mainly by Mike Keigwin, who must be one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met. The achievements of his team, working in conjunction with UWA, (Uganda Wildlife Authority), have involved saving the lives of many thousands of animals. This has been achieved through both direct action, such as the rescue of animals from traps and the sourcing of vets to treat injuries, and the many elements of the wonderfully holistic approach the team takes.  

It is this approach, addressing the needs of the animals, their habitat and the local population, that completely convinced us that this is a project truly worthy of support. They understand (and helped to make us understand) that there’s no point at all in just focusing on the wildlife. You need to consider all factors if you really want to succeed.  

And succeed they have.’

Artwork by: Cy Baker

How the locals live

‘We also had a partial education on the lives lived by the local Ugandans.  

The best illustration of this was when we stopped for lunch by the side of the road one day. It happened to be by some fields worked by the local women, and we ended up chatting with a couple of them. One woman was with her 7-year-old boy, who was working in the field with her, and the other had a 6-month-old baby strapped to her back as she worked. This was very basic manual labour they were doing, working the fields with a single large hoe, which is pretty much the only tool we saw the women with throughout our trip.  

It was difficult (if not impossible) to come to terms with the difference between their lives and ours. There really is no comparison at all.’

Ugandan wildlife

‘On most of our trips, it’s the natural world that leaves the biggest impression, but it’s not true in this case. There’s no doubt that the wildlife was incredible, and we got closer to and had the most personal experiences with gorillas, lions, elephants, leopard cubs, and chimps we’ve ever had in our lives. But the fragility of it all, the poverty of the locals, and the difficulties that need to be overcome to save our entire planet were demonstrated so clearly, that everything else pales into insignificance.’

Artwork by: Cy Baker

Art to support conservation

‘However, what’s left, after you boil all of it away, is the need to try and make a difference. To try and do whatever you can to improve all our chances for a stable future. The only real way I can do that (other than the usual personal choices) is through my art.  

I’ve always said that I see my job as an artist to try and communicate some of the awe I feel when experiencing the beauty of this planet, and I can now say, with certainty, that needs to change. I must now view my job as a conduit to try and support conservation efforts by communicating some of the awe I feel when experiencing the beauty of the planet that is in our care, through my art. 

What better way of doing that than via the work of David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.’

– Cy Baker 

Visit Cy Baker’s Uganda Untamed Exhibition

We hope you can visit the Uganda Untamed exhibition between the 12 and 16 of September to observe Cy’s incredible talent in creating thought-provoking artwork with just a biro. The exhibition is free to attend from 10am – 5 pm at Mall Galleries, all we ask is for a charitable donation.

Attend DSWF’s Artists in the Field Event

If Cy’s visit to Uganda inspired you and you have any burning questions, please attend our Artists in the Field event on 13 September. Cy will be joined by Martin Aveling, Detlef Tibax and Andrew Pledge to recall exciting stories from their recent travels to DSWF project areas in Zambia, Namibia and Uganda.

Artists in the Field

This incredibly special panel discussion will see the past ‘Wildlife Artist of the Year’ winners each recollect moments from their recent trips to DSWF partner projects in Zambia, Uganda, and Namibia.

Guests will be able to enjoy drinks and hear directly how art can be used as a vital conservation tool, raising awareness for endangered species. All enjoyed whilst surrounded by the stunning array of wildlife art from Wildlife Artist of the Year 2023.

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