Karen Laurence-Rowe to Receive AFC's Highest Honor

Vancouver, BC CANADA - Aug 10, 2015 - Internationally recognized Kenyan artist Karen Laurence-Rowe has been chosen to receive the Artists for Conservation’s (AFC) top honor: the Simon Combes Conservation Artist Award.  AFC bestows this tribute annually to recognize artist members for their dedication to the conservation cause and outstanding artistic achievement. 

AFC President and Founder, Jeff Whiting explains: “Karen truly is an artist's conservationist. Through an impressive body of award-winning and often large-scale paintings, she has channelled her talent to generating critical funds to support wildlife conservation in Africa. In addition, she has taken a leadership role in the artists community to rally other artists to take up the cause. We are very proud to recognize Karen for her dedication.” Karen join a who’s-who roster of international recipients chosen for their artistic excellence and lifetime of extraordinary support of conservation, including David Shepherd, Robert Bateman, John Banovich, Robert Glen, Sue Stolberger, Pollyanna Pickering, Dr. Guy Harvey, Richard Ellis and John and Suzie Seerey-Lester.

For years, Karen has donated the proceeds from her work, usually in their entirety, to various organizations and causes, raising tens of thousands of dollars each year. More recently, she has dedicated much of her artistic life to helping conservationists combat poaching in Africa. As an internationally renowned Kenyan painter of African wildlife, she uses her gift to support the conservation causes that she is most passionate about. 

Some recent examples include a painting for an orangutan project in Indonesia;  a painting to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy for their White Paw training initiative; four graphite works for Amboseli Trust for Elephants depicting mother and baby elephants that the organization studies. Karen also has a special connection to the Soysambu Conservancy and the Combes family, having actively supported conservation of the now World Heritage site.

Karen was born in Uganda, daughter to a civil engineer. Her family lived an almost nomadic existence, moving around East Africa to wherever a road or a bridge was needed. Home in those early years was often a prefab wooden site house with lions and hyenas breaking the sounds of the night. With no towns or cities around for hundreds of miles, Karen and her siblings would draw to entertain themselves. It is this period that influenced her decision to become an artist. These memories of Africa’s virtually unspoiled landscapes, teeming with game and magnificent views, were to influence her subject matter in the years to come.

Karen’s paintings grace the walls in Kenya and internationally - including the world-renowned collection of His Highness the Aga Khan. In 2012, she won the David Shepherd “Wildlife Artist of the Year” with a painting of a group of Soysambu Rothschild Giraffe. 

Seeing the effects of poaching and human encroachment on wild spaces inspired Karen to establish the initiative “Artists against Extinction”. Explaining “I can’t go out and fight the poachers personally, but I can help the people that do”, she instead asked other artist colleagues to join her in pledging 25% of paintings to conservation groups that they were involved in. 

AFC’s Simon Combes Conservation Award is the most prestigious award and highest honour AFC presents to an artist member who has shown artistic excellence and extraordinary contributions to the conservation cause, exemplifying the same qualities as the award’s namesake.  A prominent member of AFC, Simon Combes 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. On December 12th, 2004, Simon was tragically killed by a charging Cape buffalo while hiking near his home in Kenya.

Karen Laurence-Rowe will be recognized during the Artists for Conservation Festival Gala in front of a VIP crowd on September 10th, 2015 in Vancouver, BC. Tickets for the gala and awards dinner are available for sale at www.artistsforconservation.org/gala.

Learn more about Karen through her AFC website at www.artistsforconservation.org.

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.


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