Why artist Karen Laurence-Rowe is making a stand for wildlife
Pictured above: “Eye Contact” by Karen Laurence-Rowe
For Uganda-born artist Karen Laurence-Rowe, there is nothing better than escaping into the fields and plains surrounding her home in Kenya. Her stunning paintings of the local wildlife, landscapes and people have adorned the walls of many an art lover, and just over a decade ago, Karen’s work culminated with the recognition she deserved, by winning the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of The Year Award. She has since been a recipient of the AFC Simon Combes Conservation Artist Award in 2015, and won the David Shepherd Personal Choice Award two years later, in 2017.
Despite the continued upward trajectory of her career, Karen’s main passion – despite her art – remains the wildlife she loves to paint. A noticeable increase in the number of poachers across Kenya, however, has meant that the community rangers who work in the region are fighting a hard battle to keep them at bay. Ivory in particular is becoming more sought-after, meaning elephants are being horrifically hunted for their tusks.
Karen has elected to stand by no longer, and has vowed to support those who continue the fight for the animals’ increasingly threatened survival. Over the years, the artist has donated a number of her works to charity auctions, to raise funds for conservation initiatives across Africa. Karen says of her fund-raising, “There comes a time when you have to put your money where your mouth is! As fast as I can paint the beautiful beasts and vistas of this continent, they are as quickly disappearing to the pressures of poaching. I feel the need to record it in paint – and quickly – before it is lost to us forever.”
She adds, “Never before has it been so important to capture the creatures of this planet that are disappearing before our very eyes. I am deeply concerned about the rapid slide to extinction that so many animals across the planet are facing. With Africa ingrained in my brush and my blood, I am compelled to capture it…. before mankind has destroyed it all!”