Brenda de Groot


Turn on a random nature documentary, and nine out of ten times it ends with the notion: save the planet because she’s going down. Man is a monster that robs the seas from their fish, strips entire mountains from their forests and turns rainforests to barren deserts. We wreck ecosystems and are committing a mass genocide on all life on Earth. We are on the verge of a disaster and we need to stop it, but honestly we are already to late.

The documentary is finished.

There we are, on the couch, staring crestfallen at the closing credits. Our wonder for nature and the animals we’ve just seen took a complete U-turn and left us with a paralyzing feeling of guilt. The Earth is going down and it is our fault.

The Earth is going down and it is our fault.

While there certainly is a truth in it, I wonder whether this the image we want to leave behind. Nature wasting away like a fragile sapling that needs our hands to ‘save’ it, and animals as pitiful victims of our greed.

I don’t think so.

Nature is so much more than our backyard, and animals are so much more than victims. Millions of years of evolution shaped the Earth to the breathtaking collection of ecosystems it currently is. With forests that are still packed with animals and plants, oceans fizzling with life, and mountainranges that own all beauty contests together. Nature is astonishing, complex, unpredictable, sublime, frightning, perfect and imperfect all at the same time. Thát is the image we should pass to our kids. So that they develop a passion for life on Earth, and are not conditioned to feel guilt whenever they see a forest or a deer.

Practice what you preach, is what they say. And since pictures say more than a thousand words, I thought, why not make a painting of it.

The Art of the Ocean

The message I want to convey with this piece is that nature and all animals on Earth have intrinsic value. Value of themselves. Just like you cannot replace a human being by another or catch its value in money, likewise you cannot replace an individual from a different species by lifeless dollars. The intrinsic value of nature and animals cannot be expressed by or replaced with capital or material.

It is time we focus on the intrinsic value of nature. That we build passion for all life on Earth. And let people be driven by that passion to act for the benefit of this indescribably beautiful world.

With this work I want to show the intrinsic value of the ocean and all the animals that live under and above its surface. So that when someone asks: “Why? Why is it so important we protect the oceans?”, that you only have to point and say,



The reason to care

This work was auctioned at the Dinner Lecture of Sea The Future. The proceeds from the painting went to the cause that puts the mission you just read about in practice: Sea First. With the money, Sea First is able to print education material for schools, so that our children – the future of our Earth – learn how beautiful the oceans are, how important it is that we conserve them, and how they can do so.    

Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.
– Nelson Mandela


This post is also available in NL

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