‘Woman at the Top’ and mud at Senuko, art and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe…..

Woman on Top’

A heavy shower of rain has subsided and at last I am last sketching a rock onto my large canvas. Not just any rock. She is a slab of granite that towers over the grassland at the base of our hill, upon which our house ‘Tsavene’ rests….
I crouch at her feet, deep in mud and long green grass, between rain falls. I am uncomfortable, plagued by buzzing flies and conscious of unknown presence in the surrounding waist-high vegetation, where this morning a predatory hyena called repeatedly. A lion could melt away here, never be seen until stumbled upon…..so I am pleased that my Jack Russell pups stand guard on high rocks as I draw….

I have been thinking about painting this she-rock for so long….have observed and mused over this rock for years, and in all seasons. She displays the same inner strength year after year but changes her character, her facade, just as the landscape changes with the rains and successive droughts.
She is not one rock, but two, acting as one-a monumental body supporting a tiny head lifted to the shifting skies. The left side of her mammoth body, the windward side, is tinged rust, tempered by the wild fires that rage through these grasslands in the dry season. Her head is held high above any fire, but is whittled from decades, centuries, of rain, wind and baking sun. Serene in her wilderness landscape, she endures all and sees all. She never fails to strike me as forcibly as a Henry Moore sculpture. I am in awe of her.


Why am I here in the mud and scratchy grass?…..because I am under short notice to produce a painting for ‘Woman at the Top’ an EU sponsored exhibition at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, showcasing female visual artists working in all mediums.


What does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be at the top in your field? Is excellence realistically attainable? This exhibition will go beyond merely looking at the repeatedly stated universal and local challenges that women face. It will celebrate the strengths and accomplishments that women have achieved in spite of various forms of difficulty and diverse experiences. The exhibition is about breaking the glass ceiling and enduring through trials. It is hoped that artists will interpret the theme using their own exploration of their wider understanding of continental interactions, global interactions as well as the personal response. The show will be a fitting tribute to mark International Women’s Day in March 2014.

I have only just received a notification of the exhibition and deadline for submission is two weeks away……I am under pressure. As I sketch I realise how much I relish working under pressure, it lends an edge, a certain adrenalin. Much like being surrounded by long grass….


About wineandwilddogs

Lin Barrie The Save Valley Conservancy stretches along the upper reaches of the great Save River in the south east of Zimbabwe. The Gonarezhou National Park laps against the southern banks of the Save River and between these two nestles the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These three celebrated wildlife areas form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, (GLTFCA)- a unique wilderness jewel which is home to the “Big Five” (endangered Black and White rhinos, elephants, buffalo, lion, leopard) and the ”Little Six” (Klipspringer, Suni, Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok and Oribi). Endangered African wild dogs, Cheetah, Brown hyena, Bat-eared foxes and a host of special birds and plants contribute to the immense variety of this ecosystem. Communities around the GLTFCA contribute to innovative partnerships with National Parks and the private sector, forming a sound base on which to manage social, economic and environmental issues. This is home to artist and writer Lin Barrie and her life partner, conservationist Clive Stockil. Expressing her hopes, fears and love for this special ecosystem with oil paints on canvas, Lin Barrie believes that the essence of a landscape, person or animal, can only truly be captured by direct observation. Lin Barrie states: “Through my art, and my writing, I feel an intimate connection with the natural world, and from my extensive field sketches of wild animals, people and landscapes, I create larger works on canvas. Lin's work is in various public and private collections in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Canada, Sweden and the United States of America. She is represented by galleries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Kenya and Florida, USA.
This entry was posted in Africa, African flora, african wildlife, art, art exhibition, beauty, birds, landscape, Lin Barrie Art, predators, Rivers, Save Valley Conservancy, Senuko, serenity, wilderness, zimbabwe and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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