A legendary, naturalist and artist with connections to Victoria has turned 90 years old.
Robert Bateman turned 90 on May 24, an occasion the Bateman Foundation calls an “incredible milestone” for an “iconic painter and conservation champion.”
Bateman may be known for his evocative portrayals of the natural world, but his conservation and preservation work has earned the renowned artist recognition by the Audubon Society as one of the 20th century’s “heroes of conservation.”
His art has raised millions for environmental causes and at 90, Bateman still paints, talks about and advocates for wildlife, harnessing the power of his profile for a timeless and vital cause.
Bateman’s work has also earned him friends in high places. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canadian literary sensation Margaret Atwood and world-famous conservationist David Suzuki are just some of the faces to appear in a short ‘Happy Birthday’ video celebrating nine decades of the Canadian naturalist.
Located in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature features rotating nature exhibits including Bateman’s work. Locals and tourists alike stop in to the historic building for a glimpse of artwork capturing details of the wild and often unreachable natural world.
The foundation also promotes nature education across the country. Bateman himself worked as a high school art and geography teacher for two decades, and his finely articulated and enthusiastic philosophies on life and nature inspire the foundation’s programs including the newest one, Sketch Across Canada.
The program’s goal is to get 33,000 Canadians (also the number of days one has lived when they turn 90) to “venture outside and become bright-eyed three-year-olds again.”
For those who want to celebrate his 90th birthday, the Bateman Foundation welcomes donations for its nature programs at batemanfoundation.org/support-us/.
Nature-enthusiasts can also send Bateman a personal birthday message by sketching their own nature drawing and posting it to social media with the hashtag #mynaturesketch.
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