Much as animal predators utilize their prey, we humans utilize animal parts; we wear leather shoes and belts; many of us eat animal products; we use fats and scents in cosmetic products, skins and horns in musical instruments. Thinking musical instruments, as an example, Ivory from elephants tusks and Ebony, the beautiful dark African hardwood, were traditionally used to make white and black piano keys. (update: Check out a great video on elephants and ebony trees in Gonarezhou National Park by Gus Le Breton, the African Plant Hunter…)
Kudu horns make acoustic horns for traditional dancers, cowhide makes drumskins, animal gut makes the strings of guitars…
Humankind always has and always will depend on harvesting their needs from the world around them. This is not a wicked thing, this utilisation, but it becomes wicked, becomes evil, when the products are harvested with fear and stress, or in an uncontrolled way which drives targeted species towards extinction.
“Monoceros”, is a mythical beast first described in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History as a creature with the head of a stag, tail of a boar, elephant’s feet and a horse’s body — and from the head a horn four feet long …. to me this describes a rhino…
The existence of unicorns, and the curative powers of the horns ascribed to them… a long lasting and persistent myth…
rhinos seem to me to fit the bill…perhaps why there is ongoing trade in their precious horn….
A Danish physician re-framed the unicorn as an aquatic creature of the northern seas. Natalie Lawrence discusses a fascinating convergence of established folklore, nascent science, and pharmaceutical economy.
So- a unicorn may indeed look like that….or this….
But I really prefer my theory…a rhino!
And that is an apt theory considering that it is nearly World Rhino Day….
Rembrandt@350 exhibition will be hosted by the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Zimbabwe, and the National Galleries in Harare and Bulawayo. This year marks 350 years since the death of Rembrandt van Rijn, the most famous artist from the Golden Age.
I am very excited to be submitting works for this show, inspired by the superb draughtsmanship of Rembrandt, his timeless mastery of elemental emotion with simple sketches…such as his brush and ink sketch ” Woman Sleeping”:
The Brief: Artists select a Rembrandt work of their choice and recreate or interpret it in their own style and medium. Considerations for the local context and modern day might also be factored in. Local and Dutch judges will select entries for display alongside prints of the Rembrandt pieces being recreated. Also on display for the opening night in Harare will be the six original Rembrandt etchings held at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe!
• Opening Night Harare: 24 October for a three week showing
• Opening Night Bulawayo: 25 November for a three week showing
I consider Rembrandt to be one of the masters of drawing people from life, capturing the essence of his subject intimately- such as his sketch “Woman Sleeping”, probably his subject being his life partner Hendrickje Stoffels.
Rembrandt’s ink and brush drawing is both affectionate and yet not a precise likeness of the sitter. Created in about 1654, it is yet timeless and throughly relevant in a modern context.
The study is drawn with brush, in brown wash with some white bodycolour. This technique is appeals to my eye, reminding me of minimalist oriental brushwork.
With only a few broad strokes, Rembrandt has superbly outlined the body of the sleeping woman. The white of the paper helps to create her form and is a vital part of the composition.
To me the essence of a great sketch is in being able to say so much with very few, well considered brushstrokes or pen lines… to “say more with less”!!!
I have tried to re-create the mood and composition of Rembrandt’s original with brush and acrylic, giving the subject an African context by using as my model a young Shangaan (changana) woman sleeping on her large cowhide drum, after I had watched her drumming for her energetic dance troupe at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge. The Changana culture of dance and drumming is strong here in the Greater Transfrontier Conservation Area of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. (GLTFCA)
So one of my submissions is “Woman Sleeping”, 2019, Ode to Rembrandt, by Lin Barrie, acrylic on deep stretched canvas, 61 x 40.5 cm:
The original “Recumbent Lion” drawing by Rembrandt is my inspiration for my second painting, in terms of its timeless depiction of a male lion, capturing the ‘essence” of lion admirably…obviously drawn from real life, he probably drew a lion that he had access to in a zoo…
Here is Rembrandt’s original sketch:
The original is executed with pen and brown ink on brown paper, height 12.2 cm x 21.2 cm
This superb Rembrandt sketch talks, no, SINGS to me, since, living as I do with wildlife in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique, I have a passion for sketching animals in the wild, capturing the feelings, the movements and emotions of the living creature….!
I have been observing lions regularly at my bush house, and they call around us most nights. I have also observed lions at great length in the magnificent Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, such as this magnificent boy, one of two brothers whom we spent hours with on a camping trip…
So, with lions close to my heart, I have recreated the feeling of Rembrandt’s sketch by using my palette knife as a ‘pen’ and brown acrylic paint. Extra detail has been done with a brush…
Thank you Embassy of the Netherlands in Zimbabwe, Doreen Sibanda, Chinovava Chikukwa, and Valerie Sithole all of The National Gallery, for this inspired forthcoming exhibition!
My painting “Sabi Stars with broken kudu horns”, (Diptych), is acrylic on stretched canvas, each panel being 3 x 2 feet
Here below is my alpha female wild dog skull- she was killed many years ago by a lion while defending her five-week old pups at the den. I treasure her skull and her memory. (Before you ask, her eight pups survived!….but that is a story for another time…)
Porcupines entrance me, and one in particular, Mr Nhungu, visits our bush garden regularly to nibble at the leftover dog food, or more happily chew on the bark of my favourite trees! And so of course, I paint quills……
Leopards grunt and prowl around our Tsavene bush house, exquisite cats, and so I paint spots… but my paintings are not purely decorative, just as animal skins are not…there is an excessive harvesting of skins for various cultural and decor uses which is not sustainable if we do not become very aware of the finite resource we are abusing…
Life and Death, Predator and Prey, are all the natural cycle of the world we live in, to be celebrated and honoured, not feared… and so my garden inspires me endlessly…
We live to eat, and eat to live and so hunting for food in a sustainable way is part of life, whether we are wild animal or human…
Something killed this warthog, but his memory lives on on my sketch pad…
Giant land snails, often caught and killed by fire or drought, leave behind their exoskeletons… pristine empty white shells which are thereafter joyfully found by me like the jewels in the bush that they are. Prey to me and my pencil….!!
So…. my studio is a cornucopia of treasured objects, laid out on a work table that has seen many years of use.
I relish painting these amazing natural shapes and colours…but the flip side of the coin which preys on my mind is un-natural death, excessive hunting or poaching by wire snare, poison or unwitting use of chemicals and plastics, trade in illegal wildlife products…
Very recently, in conjunction with Parks, we recovered the poor head of a female rhino who had been shot at by poachers. She ran, only to die a lonely death in the mopani ….
A mono-print..inspired by the old skull of a white rhino that I sketched many years ago, when do a mono-printmaking course at Artists Press in White River…
My new diptych, “Winter Woodland and Rhino Skull”. Each canvas panel is 2 x 3 feet. (
Winter is Coming….. as they say in “Game of Thrones”….
Here are bones slowly returning to the earth, from a black rhino poached years ago below our bush house…
Will we soon see only blank space, empty walls with faded memories and old marks, where once were wild rhinos..? A sobering thought- reflected in my photograph “Cable Snare Wire and Rhino Bone…”
The pelvis of this same rhino was a terribly beautiful object, and I have honoured it in paint..
The other-worldly beauty of a vertebra bone, a strange orchid flower or dragon-head shape emerging…. on a lighter note, this could inspire an image for a Game of Thrones dragon….or one of the amazing dragons from the movie “How to Train your Dragon”!!! or indeed, a Star Wars/Darth Vader type creature….
Winter is indeed coming.
Perhaps some of my paintings and photographs will act as a reminder of the fragile beauty with which we are entrusted, and of the mortality that looms if we do not find solutions to the over-use of our worlds resources…
And so I am working towards a solo exhibition…
Living with my life partner Clive Stockil in the lowveld wilderness of Zimbabwe, I document skulls, stones and bones around our house in the Save Valley Conservancy, and I will continue to paint the joy, and sometimes terror, that I find in them.
Disclaimer: With respect to Zimbabwe National Parks rules, no bones, or indeed any objects, must EVER be removed from any National Park. Take only Photographs and leave only Footprints! Any bones I use for sketching and photographing are private collection, and/or with permission – not for any commercial value or sale, and definitely not from any National Parks.
“For our Thai beach holiday, (which was planned to co-ordinate a family holiday with a friends’ wedding), we were delighted and lucky to use Travel Portfolio…I cannot fault the initial itinerary options and efficient friendly feedback that we received from Hayley and all the Travel Portfolio Team.The final result was a seamless and enjoyable holiday, all eventualities planned for, including land and ocean transfers. Travel Portfolio ensured that delightful representatives on the ground at our destination to answer our questions and guide us towards fun tours and activities. A great experience, thanks to the caring Travel Portfolio Team.”
A seamless flight via Singapore’s Changi airport, an airport delightfully filled with orchids ….
and MORE orchids…orchids everywhere- a feast for the senses….
and elegant Koi fish to distract from the tedium of air travel!!……..
Sunset Beach Resort on Phuket Island, Thailand, was a perfectly positioned haven, commanding views of the ocean and sunset, on Kata Beach, north of the busy tourist beach of Patong.
In the late afternoon Muslim food vendors arrived on motorbikes loaded with canopies and cooking utensils to set up their kitchens in front of the rocky beach and the sunset . A delicious way to snack on local delicacies and view spectacular sunsets at the same time, before hitting the nightlife of Bangla Road!
Staff were welcoming, the courtyard swimming pool was surrounded by flowers, palms and birdsong
The Thai massage came highly recommended……and the ocean view bar was a delightful way to start or end the day…..
A free shuttle bus ran regularly from Sunset Beach Resort, to ferry guests to crazy, commercial, busy but fun-filled Patong Beach….!!!!
Our calm and peaceful sunset view:
inspired by rocks and ocean spray, my abstract painting:
For me, meeting long-lost Australian family was a highlight, such special little boys…
The delightful Khun Yai (Miss Yai) was our Tour East representative, who visited us at the resort and answered all our questions with enthusiasm. Her advice was welcome and she directed us to two tours that we really found worthwhile:A full day Andaman sea kayak tour to Phan Nga Bay- on a very comfortable boat, delicious lunch provided (plus the life jackets and safety talks were of very good quality), before we embarked on three man kayaks to explore the limestone caves and bays of the area.
All the guides and the boat host himself were of character- much banter and fun had by all and absolutely spectacular kayaking.
Overhangs of jutting limestone teeth remind me of fossilized dragon’s jaws…
Maybe I have been watching too many dragon movies, such as “How To Train Your Dragon” with Ethan, whose passion for dragons exceeds even mine! Here is his wonderful sketch of “Toothless”:
mangrove trees and roots…inhabited by macaque monkeys and mudskippers!
With the monsoons due to begin, the water was sometimes a bit silted…
Each kayak was manned by a Thai guide and held two guests.
A half day Phuket Tour, viewing and photographing the gorgeous coastline, visiting a cashew nut factory and a stunning gem factory. Cashew flowers:
We caught a comfortable ferry to Koh Phi Phi and were efficiently transported five minutes form the pier by longboat to our next hotel the charming Bay View Resort, situated in the curve of the bay against a steep hill of forest and flowers…and a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of Koh Phi Phi dockside.
Our room was decorated beautifully…..
Sunset on our stretch of the beach, Ko Phi Phi:
Our room had a stunning view of the bay through tall forest trees, filled with fascinating birdlife and various geckos and lizards.
Imperial Pied Pigeons flitted past constantly….a new bird for us, one of the THOUSAND bird species that Thailand boasts!
Our section of the beach was sheltered and it was lovely to swim in the more peaceful waters,
away from the longboat-filled beaches and resorts further towards the pier!!!
Food at various restaurants in Kho Phi Phi was delicious.
Tuna poke bowl:
hot and sour creamy coconut and chicken soup…mmmmmmmm
My paintings were inspired by the coconut palm and ocean sunsets:
Stunning flowers everywhere ….
Wonderful exotic fruits such as rambutans- much like a huge litchi in flavor!!
And of course the infamous Durians beloved of the Chinese, and banned from most establishments due to its pungent odour…
Caught a longboat ferry – fabulous scenery past quaint stilted palm-thatched bungalows perched high against the cliffs…..
to the north of Koh Phi Phi for our friends wedding –
Little boys dressed up…
The stunning venue and scenery made for a perfect event, with a beach-themed cake made by our very own Zimbabwean master chef, Dean Jones!
Dean making last minute adjustments to his creation….
what better than a boat-filled sunset at a beach wedding….
only thing better is a palm-filled sunrise the next day….
on Phi Phi we discovered all sorts of fun stuff: coconut cocktails and fire dancers on the beach, best Pad Thai noodles at a tiny food stall, great donuts made by a Muslim lady in the market and a fabulous dive/snorkel school, with whom we went on a snorkeling trip- very professional and safety conscious/ the sea rather silted due to the beginning of the monsoons but still fascinating- we saw black tip sharks and a turtle, and a myriad of anemones, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, crabs and colorful fish.
Dr. Rosemary Groom presents slides and facts on African wild dogs, (mentored by her baby boy Benjamin!)…and as a full moon rises on the beach, even little Benjamin joins in the fun.
my paintings celebrate wild dogs, aka Painted wolves!
Painted Purple diptych-acrylic on loose canvas, each panel 54 x 39 cm
Jeremy leads happy guests down the road of tasting and appreciating fine wines…
Professional guides such as Clive Stockil lead walks in the wild…stunning Lala Palm and Baobab country near the Tembwehata Pan
The immense “Hunters Baobab” near Tembweharta Pan, also called Shadreck’s Baobab! Admired by Jeremy….
Clive and Jeremy discuss weighty matters at sundown…
what could be better than a wine tasting on the banks of the great Save River?!
gorgeous Alpha female seen by guests, near Chipinda…
Jermey and Emma, what a team for Painted Wolf Wines!
Adventure awaits Clive and Emma on a safari drive across the Save River into Gonarezhou National Park…
Wild dog photos by Xenia Kuhn – how special, seeing a den with adult wild dogs !
No one saw actual pups – who hid down the den in the limited time that people were able to the be at the den- but everyone saw adult dogs after a long drive and a Chilojo Cliffs trip … very rewarding. Dear friend Ajit St John even wrote a poem about those magnificent cliffs….
Everyone joined the wine tasting on the beach,
gorgeous snacks on the edge of the Gonarezhou wilderness,
my sunset in Africa, Save River with a glass of Painted Wolf Wine….mmmmmmmm
At the last light, a stunning photograph of the guests by Martin Harvey, as we end the day…..
So… if you want to be part of the next fantastic event, please join us!!
The views from Chilo rooms and decks are always inspiring….
Here is the flyer with all information….contact email@example.com
Here is Mr Gudo guarding my portal, his fierce visage softened by the gentle Crossandra flowers…
Crossandra flowers are waterwise, hardy and indigenous to our lowveld, rewarding and unassuming, they bloom profusely and give me great joy…(I use them to decorate food plates, and place settings, having eaten the delicate peach flowers for weeks to prove to myself that I won’t kill my guests…!)
They even match the Pantone colour of the year, “Living Coral”!!! an interior decorators dream….
Crossandra growing with a Euphorbia, the spiny and the gentle…both plants I have collected from the wilderness around me…
and in parting, a strangely satisfying, sadly macabre, chiromantis tree frog, whom I found recently, deeply embedded on the cover of one of my favourite drawing books…a sad left-over from last winter’s hibernation, who did not make it with the new rains of the season to the waterhole at our house, but perished between the covers of the art books on my book shelf….