AFC Flag Expedition to Bhutan

In the spring of 2007 Pollyanna spent six weeks trekking and camping in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, one of the world's last true wilderness environments.

Bhutan jealously guards its lifestyle and ancient traditions, and Pollyanna will be the first western artist to comprehensively document the wildlife and habitat in a series of paintings.

Pollyanna was granted a fellowship from Canada based society Artists for Conservation Foundation (formerly The Worldwide Nature Artists Group) in support of the expedition into Bhutan. Pollyanna is the first woman ever to be granted a fellowship by the group – and the first artist to be selected from outside Canada or North America.

Pollyanna acted as an ambassador for the AFC throughout the journey, and carried their expedition flag. She met with government ministers, and representatives of the World Wide Fund for Nature while in Bhutan, to learn more about the conservation issues facing the country.

“Bhutan is spectacularly beautiful” Pollyanna told us “but our living conditions were incredibly tough – we camped above 4,500m and suffered from altitude sickness. We were actually camping in the clouds on the top of the mountains – which is very cold and damp” However her suffering was rewarded with sightings of a clouded leopard – a highly endangered big cat with a beautifully marked coat – as well as red pandas and golden langurs. “Golden langur monkeys are unique to Bhutan and I was fortunate to get very close to several large groups to sketch and paint”.

Pollyanna met many villagers who told her stories of their sightings and meetings with another species which many believe to exist throughout the northern part of the country - the yeti! “Although I did not see a yeti myself, having trekked through this region I could not be certain that they don’t exist” Pollyanna commented “there is such a huge area of remote uninhabited forested mountainside, much of which has barely been explored, it is easy to imaging that any number of undiscovered species could be hiding there.”

Pollyanna did sketch a yeti scalp – kept as a holy relic in a remote Buddhist temple which is rarely opened to foreigners. “It was a bizarre thing – I certainly couldn’t have identified it – and although no photography is allowed inside the temples, they did permit me to make a sketch, so I have a record.”

A full exhibition of paintings of Bhutanese wildlife was staged in 2008, and a selection of the work has also been shown in New York in association with The Worldwide Nature Artists Group.

A Flag Expedition Journal, capturing Pollyanna's expedition to Bhutan, has been published on the AFC website. She created the journal while traveling through Bhutan earlier this year, studying the unique spectrum of flora and fauna from the region as well as the conservation issues faced by the region. Dramatic sketches, drawings and a first person account of the Bhutanese people, their lifestyle, and the diversity of Bhutan's flora and fauna, make up the journal's contents.

This is a unique opportunity to view the sketches and notes which Pollyanna makes while out on expedition, which then provide the inspiration for the paintings which she completes back in the studio.

At the flag expedition site, you can also view photographs and read Anna-Louise's daily blog of the journey.

The AFC have now published Pollyanna's journal as a limited edition leather bound book. Click here for further information.

Click Here to view Pollyanna's expedition journal of her trip to Bhutan on the dedicated Artist's for Conservation expedition web site

Since returning from Expedition Pollyanna has accepted the role of Conservation Partner to the Wildlife Conservation Division of the Department of Forests and Park Services of Bhutan.

"Thankyou for pouring your hard work, talent and soul into the project. The flag journal is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It is a timeless masterpiece that we will do our utmost to share with the world. You have set the bar even higher for followers in this program. I can only imagine how difficult it was to remain dedicated to keeping your journal contributions up-to-date, particularly while enduring sickness and discomfort. Finally thankyou both for your vision and dedication to nature conservancy artistic excellence and the Artists for Conservation Foundation"

Jeff Whiting, President Artists for Conservation Foundation.

The adventures of the AFC flag.....

The flag arrives in Derbyshire. Nieil Finn of Crowded House wishes Pollyanna and Anna-Louise luck on their expedition

Flying Yeti Air in Nepal!

Anna-Louise with the expedition's driver and interpreter.

Meeting at the WWf offices in Bhutan

At the WWF Takin Reserve

Meeting with the founders of environmental charity 'Green Dragon'

With Yak herders' children

Attending enviromental conservation summit meeting in Nepal

With Journalist from Nepalese newspaper - click here to see the resulting article!

Pollyanna and the flag are welcomed back to the UK by legendary Himalayan mountaineer Chris Bonnington.

Anna-Louise and Ray Mears discuss the expedition