Elephants and orphans, Painted and Real…

I am tickled to have been part for a “One by One” initiative with Kikis Gallery, for elephant awareness….painting three dimensions is fun and inspiring, especially when painting a baby elephant!

John Kotze, fellow artist, produced this funky elephant who met one of Wild is Life’s baby orphans…look at the expression on baby’s face!

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and talented Marlene Bornman scrolled flame lilies all over her pachyderms, delightful!

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I started with some recycled elephants from Joy Denton of Birdwoods, loving the colours…

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and when I finished, my own little elephants were introduced to the “Wild is Life” inhabitants, including sweet Mirabelle, the giraffe…

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proud mum to tiny Sebastien…

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Elephants, giraffes, humans, we are all One Family…

“Elephants are symbols of immense power wrapped in a gentle and thoughtful soul…delicate and sensitive, they seem at odds with their size and at the same time extremely graceful. They can exert huge pressure but rarely do, and they are the ultimate family.” …quote by Lin Barrie.


So…..spots and dots and chevrons…I went wild!

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I had a lot of fun embellishing these lovely metal re-cycled oil drum sculptures, (note the Castrol logo!)

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next “One by One” artist will be Ingrid Tucker, creating her mosaic work on metal elephants I think…watch this space!

Signing off for now, with elephant love, from Lin Barrie Art….

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Baobab skins get a coat of chain mail; Elephants get something else to eat…..

I am always tickled by the look-alike skins of baobabs and elephants…from baobab trunk…

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to elephant trunk…

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Elephant Musings and water
Acrylic on loose canvas

and the wrinkled limbs such as this foreleg…

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and this tiny little leg disappearing into the baobab trunk below…has that baby really just climbed into the fork of this giant baobab!?

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Baobabs endlessly fascinate me, each one as distinctive as the elephant characters we watch daily….subjects of many of my paintings…such as “Baobab Beauty”, acrylic on loose canvas, 90 X 90 cm:

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 Baobab Beauty, acrylic on loose canvas, 90 X 90 cm

Baobabs provide total environments for birds, bats, insects, snails, bees and humans, a cornucopia of shade, shelter and sustenance….

Baobab powder is just one of the products that we love eating, (I love it on muesli with yoghurt and honey…)


…as long as it is sustainably harvested, as by our Changana mahenye community…

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Elephants and baobabs are so alike, but the sad fact is that elephants also eat baobabs voraciously at certain times of the year!

Best way to protect a two-thousand year old baobab skin from an elephant is to give it a snug corset of chain mail, such as this being wrapped around our Gonarezhou baobab whom I have named “Mr Steadfast”…..

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but unlike ancient medieval armour, this mesh link fence is gentle and unobtrusive, seen only at close range…

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We are lucky to have the help of wonderful donors to the baobab fund managed by the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, (GCT)…donors such as Chicago-born Barbara Kipper, lover of wilderness, art, travel, and all things African, (especially baobabs and baobab powder!) whose help has resulted in Mr Steadfast Baobab getting his corset of chain mail…

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Leader of the baobab protection team, Bvekenya is a man with history...

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he is the grandson of the legendary “Bvekenya”- Cecil Barnard, ivory hunter who roamed these parts and would have sheltered under these very thousand year old trees…

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So, one more baobab of more than 50 protected baobabs so far is done and dusted in Gonarezhou….thank you Barbara!

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But of course the elephants will continue eating……..

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and eating…..

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and EATING!…..

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These gentle giants need more than 100 kg of food daily…

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and that’s a whole new story….IMG_4034 lo res.jpg



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Bees, Baobabs and Baboons……

Bees, baobabs and baboons -a wonderful trio of treats for us at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge


Surrounded  we are at Chilo and in the Save Valley Conservancy, by baobabs of all sizes and characters, some awesomely misshapen, some stately…

All of them are inspiring to me, fueling  my art....


and fueling my body… the fuzzy fruits yield the tasty powder that I love to sprinkle on my muesli, adding tang and huge doses of vitamin C to start the day…

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Smoothies made with yoghurt or milk and baobab powder are delicious; add a mashed banana and your day is complete!


and at Chilo our favorite dessert is Cheese Cake made with the lovely stuff….

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But I am not the only one who loves this delectable powder….

Baboons go crazy for the fruits, amusing us with their antics, as in these fun photos by Gilly and Rich Thornycroft…


and bees attack the exposed powder with glee…


Not to forget the elephants and multitude of other eager users who seek out the pods

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We have a local source of this delicious food, the mahenye community, who kindly supply us with fresh fresh powder from the trees in their village…

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Chilo has hosted fabulous baobab weekends, one of which was the “Baobab Blitz” weekend with Sarah Venter, investigating flower pollination by bats, beetles or birds….

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Sarah Venter of Eco Products and Gus Le Breton of B’Ayoba market the  powder to eager local and international buyers, 

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Iyachisa mulilo…..”Fire burns”, a Changana totem….

Of snails, of culture, of food, fire and art…read on by hitting the link!

Iyachisa mulilo…..”Fire burns”, a Changana totem….


Iyachisa Mulilo, a two metre acrylic painting by Lin Barrie:


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Miombo Woodlands inspire colour and drama….

Our unique Miombo Woodlands inspire my art at this time of year as we head into our Zimbabwean spring colours…

Msasa abstract triptych, acrylic on deep stretched canvas

Msasa leaves will soon burst forth in all the deep warm tones of a Northern hemisphere fall!

msasa triptych, acrylic on canvas-each panel 3 x 2 feet Lin Barrie

Interspersed with splashes of brilliant red from the Erythrina trees

Msasa trees are found in the Miombo areas of Africa…


Fun facts:

A “Touch of the Wild in the Heart of the City”, Harare’s Mukuvisi Woodlands is an inspiring place to walk, dream and hold art shows! Plus view the spring colors for the next few months…

You might very well see Guinea Fowl,

guinea spots acrylic on canvas board, 51 x 41 cm Lin Barrie


and the endangered and elusive pangolin might very well be here among these trees…!

Old Gold Pangolin, acrylic on loose canvas, 57 X 93 cm Lin Barrie


The most wonderful drives through colourful woodlands at this time of year are towards Mutare from Harare, on the way to “Gordon’s” of Mutare.

And onwards to SeldomSeen for best birding…and flowers…

plus Tony’s Coffee Shop for best cake in the glorious misty Vumba Mountains…

A road trip towards Chinoyi from Harare, plus the route south from Harare to Chivu, Zaka, rewards long-distance travelers with vistas of deep glowing colour from the miombo species along the way…..

Posted in Africa, African flora, African Safari, african wildlife, art, art exhibition, beauty, bio diversity, birding, Birdlife Zimbabwe, birds, conservation, eco-tourism, landscape, Lin Barrie Art, Pangolin, rural school,, wilderness, wildlife trade, zimbabwe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ivory Trail, following in the footsteps of giants….

Starting from Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge on a cool morning in May,

Clive and I, plus the Chilo camp team of Victor, Richard and Chef Peter Chisasa, depart for the south of Gonarezhou, passing the gorgeous Chilojo Cliffs..

fording the still-full and  challenging Runde river en route

(with just a little help from the Gonarezhou Parks Tractor…!)

En route I discover wonderful varieties of flowers and we spend a night at gorgeous Centre Pan, still unusually full of water due to our extraordinary rainy season…

In the deep grandeur and solitude of an African Sunrise,

(even though I collect voracious leeches on my legs as I stand in the water to take this photo!), we decide that this will be a special place to bring our guests on the return route…

Departing Centre Pan, our route is graced with the autumn/winter colors of the bush,

a slinky cheetah…

and numerous dazzling Golden orb spiders, whose sparkling stands of web lace the trees…here is a female with her food cache, (and if you look close you can see her attendant tiny male bottom left..!!)

We are planning to meet our special fly-in guests at Mbalauta shortly, for a tented camp adventure..The Ivory Trail!

a legendary trail of Baobabs and Elephants..

Greeted by gentle wild things, we set up camp with the Chilo staff at Rossi Pools

a spectacular camp site set on a cliff of rock and aloes overlooking the Mwenezi River…

Peepholes …from a rock hyraxes viewpoint…


I contemplate the new day….today Clive is due to pick up the guests from the Mbalauta airstrip..

Staff are excited by new horizons…new adventures…

and prepare the dome tents for the guests


little finishing touches…

Clive collects the guests- dear friends Garth Thompson and the Foremans, with whom we share a night at Rossi Pools then start The Ivory Trail in earnest…

exploring the unique Mwenezi River potholes and waterfalls…

rock landscapes constantly catch my eye


and spectacular lichens abound…I feel a painting growing in my head…

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Moving onwards, Centre pan is home for the next two nights of our safari, and I am honoured to share this special place with legendary guides Garth Thompson and Clive Stockil…

together with dear friends the Foremans…

We tuck ourselves into cosy tents each night…

surrounded by the flowers and stunning colours of autumn…

Homemade lemon curd on toast starts the day at Centre Pan…

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(spot the kitchen tent and supply vehicle tucked away unobtrusively….)

After breakfast I stay in camp while Clive and Garth take the Foremans exploring. I sketch the scene with my favorite old stick, acrylic and left over filter coffee. (Strong the way Garth likes it, this la Lucie coffee is perfect for sketching!)

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the finished sketch…

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On to the next adventure, Clive picks up his hat….

(What would he do without it?!)

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Staff bid farewell to Centre pan…

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and load up their vehicle for the trip to the Runde River…

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En route …..


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we are greeted in stately fashion by this gentle giant….

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Next destination, Director’s Camp on the Runde River, where we find that our intrepid staff have already set up a dining area…

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and a kitchen…

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Gorgeous late afternoon light shines on the newly minted camp..

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what a site!

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Garth finds special time to read and ponder the pink cliffs..




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I find endless colors and inspiration …looking up at our camp on the bank..

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and down over the wide sands of the Runde River as the sun lowers…

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reflecting the golden cliffs in the waters of the Runde…

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The next morning brings mist and atmosphere for breakfast…

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plenty more filter coffee…

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and blankets are necessary for the morning drive…

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I happily stay in camp…

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and begin an early morning sketch of those cliffs that endlessly intrigue me..

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elephants are always somewhere in the picture at the cliffs…

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The evening brings a stunning, surreal full moon rising over the cliffs, a quarter bite out of it as it hovers against the jagged edge of the cliff profile…a wonderful night followed by another very chilly morning..

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What a space for a few days rest..just us and the elephants..

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(strangely now that I have finished the cliff painting, I notice that I have a “moon” watermark in exactly the same place as the moon rose that night!)

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Next part of the Ivory Trail…On to Mahove Camp further down the Runde River…

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Mahove means “Fish” and it is also the name of a special camp on the wild Runde River….

Mahove means “Fish” and it is also the name of a special camp on the wild Runde River….

Here is an afternoon view of the that wild and fish-filled river from Mahove tent number 4, just to whet your ‘appetite”!

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comfy tents create a warm welcome…

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The rich Runde waters are home to fish, crocodiles and turtles galore,  which brings to mind food, prey and predators, catching and eating….

…some edible soft-shelled turtles are highly prized in Changana culture, presented to the Chief who confers favours on lucky subjects after such a gift…

Giant Kingfishers nest in the steep bank below tent 1  at Mahove camp, belonging to Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge,  and here is the male, resisting the attempts of a coucal to pinch his bream meal..



Saddlebills and African skimmers…yellowbills and martial eagles, vultures and parrots, egrets and owls…all can be seen from the “lounge” on the banks of the Runde at Mahove! birds galore …

great egret, by Lin Barrie, acrylic on canvas board, 46 x 61 cm

Elephants abound…here is a majestic bull with Kundani Hill as a fitting backdrop…

and shortly after come some buffalo….

as we sit having a cheeseboard snack in camp…

Lala Palms and baobabs grace this place….

Vegetable ivory drops from the palms to decorate the camp, here in a view towards tent 2,3 and 4…tucked away in the riverine trees and hardly seen!

even elephants hardly acknowledge the presence of the tents, and here a pachyderm strolls past tent 4..

wake up early to a view that beckons…

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adventure awaits…

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every walk reveals gorgeous flowers..such as this Morea edulis

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more butterflies

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and baobab landscapes delight in every direction…lots of inspiration for my field sketches..

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Baobab ridge near Mahove:

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Exploring the areas around the camp are fascinating now at the end of a very wet season…waterlily pans abound…populated by waterbirds and fish, seething with life….

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The prolific white waterlilies that we see this year are subject for a painting:

White waterlilies diptych, acrylic on loose canvas:

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here is a close up:

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Thinking fish and food…. here is my Grannie’s recipe for something delicious, adapted by me and cooked by camp chef Titus over a slow bush fire….

Mahove Pickled Fish

2 kg Tilapia, tiger fish or any firm fleshed fish- preferably thick fillets, skin off.

4 large onions, thinly sliced
1 heaped tablespoon curry powder, or to taste.
(for the brave, add fresh chillies if desired…!)
2 bay leaves
10 curry leaves
black pepper

Gently fry the onions in a little oil in a frying pan/saucepan, till translucent.
Add curry powder, bay leaves and curry leaves, fry a few minutes more to release the flavours of the curry and leaves.

Layer this onion mixture with the fish fillets in a fireproof casserole dish, using water or fish stock to cover.

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Season the layers with salt and pepper. Cover and gently poach for about half an hour over a slow flame.

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Remove from heat, carefully drain the stock into a bowl, keeping the cooked fillets

To the stock add 1 cup good quality malt vinegar, plus chutney, apricot jam, or gooseberry jam to taste. Add a tablespoon of sugar if necessary, to achieve a good sweet/sour flavour…

Mix 1 tablespoon flour or cornflour to a thin paste with some of the stock, then stir it into the stock, and heat gently till simmering and nicely thickened in a separate saucepan.

Pour the thickened sauce over the cooked fish fillets, shaking gently to evenly distribute the sauce. Pack into sterilized glass jars to keep in the fridge up to one week, tasting better every day as a cold salad dish.

preferably eat this whist having a glass of chilled wine on the banks of the Runde River….

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