TRAVELS IN AFRICA
ARTS FOR CONSERVATION
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK
NATURE IN ART
Projects and Adventures
Working as a wildlife artist has led to some interesting opportunities to travel. The very fact that you are depicting wildlife in your work means that you need to visit the habitats in which these animals live, where possible. In recent years I have regularly travelled to Botswana in Southern Africa. My first safari here in 2004 introduced me to true wilderness and I have returned several times since that first camping adventure. These trips have brought me in to contact with some amazing individuals who are committed to conservation and work in challenging environments and I have sometimes become involved in various projects. Most especially I have supported the work of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust and Lion Aid, both working in different ways to protect and preserve predators in Botswana and across Africa.
Arts for Conservation
In October 2012 I led a painting workshop with 17 children from a small village on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans National Park. As part of a project called Arts for Conservation the workshop aimed to teach talented youngsters how to paint in acrylics on canvas. It was a very special experience for me. Conservation which involves local people and works to benefit local communities in partnership with wildlife seems to me to be the way forward if we are to address the serious problems facing wildlife and wild places. Some photographs of the young artists from Moreomaoto village and the artwork they produced can be seen in this section. I hope very much to be returning to see how they are progressing and to support the development of the arts community in this area.
Everest Base Camp
There is nothing quite like being in the place where an animal you want to paint lives just for the incredible thrill of being able to study that habitat up close. For several years I had been thinking of paintings of Snow Leopards but, although I had some fabulous reference of the actual cat, its habitat was impossible to recreate from the rocks found in the UK. A trip to the Himalayas was planned and in December 2011 I was trekking to Everest Base camp. This astonishing mountain range is huge and every turn in the track brought an amazing vista and the chance to photograph and sketch rocks and lichens, grasses and wind sculpted ice. I developed a deep respect for both the people and wildlife living in this inhospitable environment but, as I struggled with the debilitating effects of altitude, there was a sense of awe that somewhere above me in the windswept snow and tumbling scree slopes, a Snow Leopard might be watching my progress.....
Closer to home, the UK’s wildlife and rural habitats are a constant source of ideas and inspiration. I love the scenery of the south west where old barns and deserted water mills, crumbling stone walls and hidden coves provide many rough sketches and doodles for future paintings. But the amazing thing with wildlife is that it will also find a way to live amongst human beings and there is something uplifting about seeing an urban Fox scouting through the back gardens or a Peregrine Falcon swooping past the spire of a cathedral. Nature is resourceful, ready to take back the land we have buried beneath tarmac with Buddleia and brambles, moss and nettles. Here amongst the butterflies and bickering sparrows there are many ideas for paintings, stories to tell about wildlife and its ability to live with man. I admire nature’s tenacity and know it will always inspire my life and work.
Nature in Art
Being invited to be artist in residence at Nature in Art, Wallsworth Hall near Glousecter is a real privilege. It is a truly inspiring location for anyone with a love of wildlife art. The museum and gallery is dedicated to fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature and houses a beautiful collection of pieces from many of the world’s leading wildlife artists. The artist in residence programme runs through the year with a different artist working in the museum’s garden studio each week. Visitors are able to meet working artists and watch them work. I usually appear at Nature in Art each year and will post the dates of my week in residence in my Blog spot.