Vancouver, BC CANADA – June 24, 2023 - Over five decades, Michael Dumas has built a reputation as one of today’s most respected realist painters both within the wildlife art genre and, notably, beyond it. For much of Michael’s career, he has been an activist and generous supporter of conserving species and protecting wild lands.
In recognition of Michael’s lifelong dedication to nature and the use of his astounding creative talent and artistic mastery, AFC is proud to honor him for his decades of work and accomplishments with its highest honor — the Simon Combes Conservation Artist Award. Since 2006, AFC bestows the award annually to individuals for exemplifying the achievements and dedication of the award’s namesake. With the award, Michael joins a who’s-who roster of international recipients chosen for their artistic excellence and lifetime of extraordinary support of conservation. Past honorees include David Shepherd, Robert Bateman, John Banovich, Robert Glen and Sue Stolberger (joint recipients), Dr. Guy Harvey, Pollyanna Pickering, Richard Ellis, John and Suzie Seerey-Lester (joint recipients), Karen Laurence-Rowe, Guy Coheleach, Mark Hobson, Guy Combes, Priscilla Baldwin, Anne London, and Kitty Harvill.
“Michael is a rare artistic legend in the world of realism, whose humility and quiet devotion to conservation over decades, has resulted in a long overdue acknowledgement of his contributions. This is made all the more special as we celebrate AFC's 25th anniversary year, that Michael is one of the handfull of original founding members. We're thrilled to honor Michael with our top award this year," explains AFC President and Founder, Jeff Whiting.
A large proportion of Michael's art reflects his concern for the welfare of the natural world. Over the past five decades, Michael has produced countless paintings to promote and raise funds for many diverse conservation groups, among those are: The World Wildlife Fund, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Canadian Parks Partnership, The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and The International Council for the Preservation of Birds.
In 1986, Michael received the Carling-OKeefe Professional Conservationist Award. At the time, it was estimated that he was instrumental in raising more than five million dollars for conservation projects. In his capacity of conservation supporter, he has worked alongside such notable figures as H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, H.R.H. Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands, and Prince and Princess Hitachi of the Japanese Imperial Family. Michael was also involved with the fundraising campaign to support the efforts of Dr. Richard Leakey in Kenya, in association with Mr. and Mrs. James Stewart, and other film celebrities.
Many of Michael’s works are focused on endangered species, (particularly birds), and have become part of important private and government sponsored special exhibitions. A five-year project initiated in 1978 and supported by the Canadian government's Canadian Explorations Program, depicted Canadian endangered species. This collection formed the core of a 1981 exhibit on the same theme at the prestigious McMichael Canadian Collection in Kleinberg, Ontario. In 1987, a series on endangered birds of prey was created in conjunction with the Wildlife '87 Conservation Fund. Michael also created a series depicting rare, endangered, and extinct birds of the world, and another dedicated to the Short-tailed Albatross was completed under the auspices of Suntory Corporation and the Wild Bird Society of Japan.
Michael also contributed several artworks in 2018 to the 100-foot collaborative “Silent Skies” mural of endangered species of birds, that AFC produced as the centerpiece of the 27th International Ornithological Congress in 2018.
Most recently, Michael became a contributor to a fundraiser for The Real World Conservation Trust termed "On the Brink" in support of aid to threatened species worldwide. This carefully curated collection of art pieces will exclusively feature threatened species and will be exhibited at The Dundas St. Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the OXO Gallery on London's Southbank, England in October/November prior to an online auction of the works.
In 2022, during a live Earth Day broadcast on Art Tour International TV, Michael spoke of the impact that the world’s first Earth Day had on him, while he was still a student at Humber College of Art, and how that moment in history marked the conscious beginning of his interest and activism in conservation and environmental issues affecting his art.
In October 2022, Michael was the focus of an in-depth two-part interview, on The Master Secrets vlog, with Kathryn Lloyd, revealing Michael's incentive and passion for creating art and the underlying source of his life-long support of environmental and conservation causes. This included his appreciation and support of AFC and its extensive effort in conservation and public education. The interviews provide a personal glimpse into a lifetime of passionate creating and personal values influencing his art and his desire for positive change in the minds of people regarding the welfare of the natural world.
Reflecting on receiving the award, Michael shared the following: “Receiving the AFC Simon Combes Conservation Award is a highlight of my career both as an artist and as a conservationist. Coming from an organization devoted specifically to conservation through art, it embodies the driving force behind a lifelong effort to express my experiences through art, and to contribute something meaningful in the world beyond the studio.”
Michael's drawings and paintings have been exhibited in many prestigious venues, including The National Museum of Canada, The McMichael Canadian Collection, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, Buffalo, The Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo & Osaka, The Yamanakako-Takamura Museum of Arts, Tokyo, Mitsukoshi Gallery, Tokyo, Matsuya Gallery, Tokyo, Sogo Gallery, Osaka, and Nature In Art, Gloucester, England.
Numerous books, magazines, films, Canadian postage stamps, and commemorative coins have featured Michael's art. He is also a published writer and has been listed in the Who's Who in Canada directory (University of Toronto Press) since 1994. His work has been juried into nearly every one of AFC’s annual exhibits and he’s received numerous AFC Medals of Excellence.
At age 72, Michael remains a tireless champion for the welfare of the earth's habitats and the wildlife that call it home. He lives in Lakehurst, Canada, with his wife Ellen and has been a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation since its launch in 1998. Michael will be formally presented with the award during the Artists for Conservation Festival opening reception on September 21, 2023, in Vancouver, BC.
AFC’s Simon Combes Conservation Award was established in 2006 is the highest honour AFC presents to an artist member. The annual award has become the world's most prestigious conservation award for visual artists. The award's namesake, Simon Combes was a prominent member of AFC until his tragic passing in 2004, when he was killed in an encounter with a Cape Buffalo near his home. Simon was Project Director of the Kenya chapter of the Rhino Rescue Trust, an organization founded in 1985 to protect endangered species from being poached, and to help the communities surrounding Lake Nakuru National Park affected by wildlife conflicts.
Learn more about Michael through his AFC website.
Artists for Conservation
Artists for Conservation (AFC) is the world's leading group of artists supporting the environment. Founded in 1997, the non-profit organization comprises a membership of 500 of the world's most gifted nature artists from 27 countries, across five continents. Dedicated to nurture, promote and leverage its world-class community of artists in support of our natural world, AFC drives its mission through three key programs: Art & Environmental Education; Field Work & Research; and Artist Development. The Artists for Conservation Festival is AFC's annual flagship initiative to showcase, support and further these programs. For more information, visit http://www.artistsforconservation.org.