Painting the World Elephant


Resson Kantai, Projects Officer

Date Published

There I stood, amongst the jaw-dropping works of first time art exhibitor, Nicola Heath. This 19 year-old grew up in Laikipia, has passion, creativity and talent like little else we had ever seen. Her focus during her summer break was painting elephants, and spreading awareness throughout Kenya about the crisis. The icing on the cake was her decision to channel the proceeds to Save the Elephants!

Walking around the exhibition, it was hard not to notice how diverse Nicola’s skills are. Dexterously experimenting with acrylic painting techniques and what looked to me like watercolour photography, Nicola painted the world of elephants, shedding new light on the lives of the animals we work so hard to save. She spent a considerable amount of time painting eyes, the windows to the souls. Each one’s name demanded closer attention, and invoked a sudden awareness of how sentient elephants are. “Eye see”, “Eye Spy”, and “Eye feel” were my favourite.

The crowds that thronged the Muthaiga Golf Club where the two-day event was held were awestruck by both the talent of the young girl who managed such a feat in only three months, and the wonder of the elephants she portrayed. It was heartening to be among the largely youthful audience, which hopefully will inject new vigour into campaigning for elephants. One lady said she couldn’t get over “how gentle elephants look when they know they are safe.” This led to a long drawn out conversation where I spoke about the Samburu elephants who truly are gentle and unperturbed in their safe zones.

After such an electrifying evening, we could only expect success for Nicola Heath. However, we were completely overcome when Nicola accompanied by her very supportive mother, came to our offices in Nairobi to present us with a cheque for nearly $4500 after selling most of her 40 paintings and prints. With overwhelming gratitude, we wish Nicola the best of success as she embarks on her journey to study fine art in the UK and use her gift to save the world’s most endangered species.

The remainder of Nicola Heath’s stunning prints will be for sale at the WCN Expo in San Francisco, Saturday 12thOctober 10:00am – 6:00pm.