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Shell Sponsored Wildlife Photography Exhibition in Belfast
antrim | environment | news report Tuesday December 19, 2006 23:06 by Terry
‘The Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ is an annual award and exhibition organised by the Natural History Museum in London, and the BBC Wildlife Magazine. The exhibition goes on an extensive tour of the U.K., as well as touring Spain, Portugal, Poland, Australia, the U.S., the Netherlands, and Abu Dhabi. Shell have a two year sponsorship deal with the Natural History Museum, which means that ’The Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ is the ’Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ until at least late 2008. There has been some campaigning in London to put pressure on the Natural History Museum not to take sponsorship from Shell. On the 24th of March 2007 the exhibition is due to arrive in Belfast, running in W5 in the Odyssey (www.w5online.co.uk), on Queen’s Quay, until the 17th of June. Some photos from the exhibition are displayed here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/slideshow/page/0,,1931170,00.html James Smith, Chairman of Shell UK said, (or so the press release reads): “We are delighted to be sponsoring this wonderful competition. It highlights the importance of supporting global biodiversity. This is an area of considerable importance to us as a company and one to which we are keenly committed.” The Shell press release also informs us that: “We are committed to respecting the basic concept of protected areas.”. Whatever about the ultimately perhaps illusionary role played by protected areas in defending bio-diversity (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_biogeography or http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no5/biodiversity.htm) we don’t have to travel very far, just to north west Mayo, to realise the reality of Shell’s commitments, see: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77807 There is a book accompanying the exhibition, and its foreword is penned by the “Executive Director” of the International League of Conservation Photographers. She writes: “A photograph created by the late Peter Dombrovskis as an anguished cry for the imminent loss of the mighty Franklin-Gordon River in Tasmania, Australia, became the lightening rod that inspired an entire nation to oppose a project that would have dammed one of our planet’s most beautiful wild rivers.” “I invite photographers around the world to make it their mission not just to capture beautiful moments but also to produce work that infects others with purpose.”. This wouldn’t be the first case of a conservation organisation getting bedding down with a corporate; see for instance the links between the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) and aluminium smelters and dams in Iceland, see: http://www.savingiceland.org/node/229 While here in Ireland, in a related theme, we have had apparent development NGO Suas running courses jointly with the World Bank, see: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/68017 In fact building such alliances is one of the suggestions in the text books on green washing, see: http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no5/goinggreen.htm The counter-publicity to the launch of the exhibition and the awarding ceremony in London in October included a speaking tour: http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/corporates/news/shell_wi....html, and an alternative photography exhibition from Art Not Oil, which you can see here: http://www.artnotoil.org.uk/gallery/v/Shell/ You can sign a petition statement against the Natural History Museum taking this sponsorship, the statement can be read here: http://www.shelloiledwildlife.org.uk/petition.html and that website also has e-mail addresses for the various people and bodies responsible for accepting the sponsorship so you can contact them and complain.