Endangered Landscapes – Earthscapes, Skyscapes; Wildscapes, Mindscapes…
As an artist and conservationist, living in Zimbabwe, Africa, but having traveled much of the world, my passion is looking at details of the landscape around me, trees; flowers; weather patterns; wildlife; domestic stock; people’s culture, to try to understand and paint the bigger picture, the synergy. Whether I am observing African wild dogs, vultures and rural communities in our transfrontier corridors with National Parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique; indigenous flowers in rewilding areas; Ocean and sand dunes in the Algarve or Mozambique; or Iberian Wolves, people and vultures in the Greater Coa Valley (which I hope to do!), weather systems and climate, endangered landscapes, fascinate me. In Zimbabwe we have just lived through the tail end of a cyclone that came from our Eastern neighbour, Mozambique, with high winds and driving rain which inspired my painting of the African coast at Beira, which recently had serious floods. My painting is called “WindSwept’, acrylic on canvas board, in which I laid my canvas flat on the terra-cotta tiles of my verandah and allowed the rain to drop and spit on the wet paint as I worked, creating great texture….
A universal landscape, this abstract painting could also easily be reminiscent of the coast at Tavira or on the Rio Formosa in Portugal, or, indeed, a turbulent sky in Scotland.
Landscapes, landscapes…..From Zimbabwe and Mozambique to the Alladale Wilderness run by friend Paul Lister in Scotland, from exploration of the Scottish Highlands and West Coast with dear ‘wild’ friends Neil and Gordon Birnie of Wilderness Scotland, and rambles with friend Paddy through re-generated flower meadows behind churches in Crieff, to the stories and photographs of friends Kelly and Peter, Fiona and Mike, who live in Portugal, Rewilding Europe is an initiative which resonates, grabs my imagination!
My dream is that the movement could eventually flow into Africa, resulting in an initiative for Rewilding Zimbabwe, Rewilding Mozambique. I live in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) straddling National Parks and rural communities in three countries, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. Worldwide, landscapes surround us and indeed are inside us! whether they are wilderness landscapes or city landscapes, they reflect the health of our world, and our own emotional and mental health .
I never tire of documenting landscapes, people, animals and found objects. I often use natural tools such as twigs and grass to draw with ink, and my own handmade charcoal from local hardwood, making marks…
Living in the Lowveld of Zimbabwe, on the edge of Gonarezhou National Park, (Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge) and also in the Save Valley Conservancy, I sketch and paint constantly. Surrounded by local communities, lifestyles, cattle, goats and wildlife, daily I watch people interacting with such as African wild dogs, elephants and lions..
Culture and dance, tradition and stories, fascinate me.. … my painting is acrylic and beadwork on canvas, and my photograph is of our local hide and wood drums and the traditional Changana kudu Horn trumpet.
“Tired Woman Sleeping on her Cowhide Drum”
and below is my “Recumbent Lion” …. in the style of Rembrandt,
These paintings was created for an exhibition “Rembrandt 350” celebrating Rembrandt and curated by the Dutch Embassy and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe
The GLTFCA is a unique, endangered landscape, straddling South East Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
My paintings and photographs celebrate our lowveld baobabs, surviving in a fragile landscape, Save Valley Conservancy, Gonarezhou, (GLTFCA), and Zambezi Valley, in Zimbabwe
If we can not preserve and nurture rewilding in conjunction with community development, tourism and cultures… and enable all people to understand, value and live sustainably with wildlife, our rural and urban communities worldwide will be the sadder for that, we will ALL be the sadder for that.
Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe is home to the spectacular Chilojo Cliffs, Baobabs and a large population of elephants…
My painting below is called “Dancing with my Shadow”, (acrylic on canvas, 4 x 3 feet). Framed with a dead-harvested local hardwood frame.
Our local communities on the edge of Gonarezhou National Park have co-existed with elephants for centuries, but increased elephant densities and increased human settlement can bring conflict when food sources and crops are threatened.
African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus (aka Painted Wolves, Painted Dogs), are a key endangered species in our Zimbabwean landscape in much the same way as Iberian Wolves (Lobos Ibericos) in Portugal and Spain, and North American wolves in Yellowstone Park… similar challenges are faced with adverse public perceptions, historical persecution, hunting, trapping, snare wires and poisoning. I constantly paint and write about these endangered animals, and collaborate with fellow artists, scientists. Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge and wine makers, Painted Wolf Wines, hold annual events to raise awareness!
As with a wolf pack, African wild dogs are social, caring animals, and co-operative hunters. I constantly follow and watch our local wild dog packs, and am endlessly fascinated by their social strength and family bonds.
Here is one of my many action paintings of a pack in full hunt… “The Chase”, acrylic on loose canvas, 88 x 180 cm..
My photo collage below shows two tall flagpoles filled with some of the snare wires that we have collected in our area over the last ten years…. and some of the wild dogs killed in years past which had government bounties on their tails, considered as vermin in competition with domestic stocking and hunting. Through my photographs and my art, portraying the challenges of traps and snare wire for our wild dog packs such as the one below, (with our alpha female visibly pregnant), I collaborate with and support two committed Predator/Wild Dog research and outreach initiatives in the field, called African Wildlife Conservation Fund and Painted Dog Conservation. Hands on Conservation, monitoring of pack health and dens, and removal of wire snares plus community outreach, library and education programmes are ongoing.
My approach in my art is multi disciplinary, often 3 dimensional, and collaborative. In pursuit of my art and in raising awareness of African Wild Dogs and endangered landscapes, I sketch landscapes, wild dogs, skulls, and footprints. I have followed in the steps of Picasso and painted ceramics! I have painted a “Wild Dog” tourism aeroplane in collaboration with a master spray painter; I have collaborated with my make-up artist daughter to create wild dog body paint for a conservation dinner/fundraising; I have donated artwork to a seminal coffee table book on “Painted Wolves” which benefits Painted Wolf Foundation; I have created a “Painted Wolf “ fashion outfit with Spanish designer Manuel Fernandes; and my wild dog paintings are used on Painted Wolf Wines labels, a great wine making initiative which directly benefits wild dog conservation, and with Wine and Wild Dog tourism weekends held yearly at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge. Wine and wild dogs go together!
“The Burnt Picture”, art installation with Wildebeeste Skull, fabric print by Lin Barrie and burnt frame
Wallscapes, Landscapes, Comments on fragile landscapes…….
“Regeneration”, art installation/collage by Lin Barrie, snare wire, horn, bone and oil on canvas
My art collaboration in Harare with the Australian Embassy, Miracle Missions Trust (directed by Sharon Hook) and a young art student in Harare, took the form of a mural painting, with an ecosystem message……save our Wetlands! Wall art in an Urban Landscape, accessible to all…….
Urban landscapes are made meaningful by recycling, refuse collection and celebration of nature, and I recycle waste into art, in collaboration with my fellow artist Booker, Plus create fun dustbins for urban areas……
My abstract water, sky and earth paintings have been translated into a Wallpaper and Fabric range by Robin Sprong Wallpapers, spreading my love of natural ecosystems into interior design, interior landscapes……..
Lin Barrie, “A River Runs, (diptych), I and II”, acrylic on loose canvas, 80 x 100 cm and 80 x 80 cm
Continuing my thoughts on landscapes, and the interior landscapes we choose, whether decor, wallpaper or the creative local foods that we eat, are informed by our exterior healthy landscapes. For me a rewilded natural landscape with indigenous flowers and fruits is vital for the food we put into our bodies. As well as paintings I love producing “food art”, such as my Flame Lily Chilli art flatbread and my Portuguese Peri Peri Chicken, using a local ‘village chicken’, free range and healthy, slow roasted over an open charcoal fire.
My ‘Pinyada Piñata’ is a paper mache sculpture, in celebration of a local wild fowl, a bird called a Guinea Fowl. It is created from chillies, handmade paper roses and palm fibre.
Main painting by Lin Barrie, “Wildlowers Impression”, acrylic on loose canvas, 90 x 104 cm and the small A3 painting, “Flame Lilies”, is acrylic on paper.
Inner Landscapes… YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT !
Worldwide there are so many seasonal local fruits and vegetables to use, if we only embrace them, listen to our grandmothers and use them! Health and Energy the natural, re-wilded way!
In Zimbabwe, Baobab powder from the rotund fruit of the indigenous baobab trees is a valuable anti-oxidant, whether adding to Maize porridge (Polenta), baking desserts or whisking up power drinks and smoothies…
Rewilding our inner landscapes, the inner well being of our healthy bodies, is just as important as rewinding our exterior landscapes!
My Fitness and Health Trainer daughter Kelli Barker is also a talented Make up artist. She and I use baobab powder constantly as an addition to our food and we collaborate on photo shoots, my painted art and her food and body art!
Baobabs, immense waterwise succulent ‘trees’, are an integral part of my lowveld landscapes, growing and revered in the wilderness and in the rural communities. I paint baobab trees and their flowers constantly, and use the flowers in landscape installations for my photography. Their importance to rural communities is great, and apart from being a food source fibre from the tree is stripped to create string, rope and woven mats. I noticed a baobab type flower as one of the motifs on our local hut paintings recently, wonderful decorations painted and repainted yearly on their hut walls, by creative house proud women with natural earth and bark pigments from the surrounding landscape,
The indigenous Flora of any landscape is such an inspiration for me, so integral to rewilding and a healthy ecosystem, and balm for the human soul as well as the bees…. Tree and wild flower meadow planting, regeneration, are the way to restore our endangered landscapes. In so many cases if we but give nature a chance, and leave spaces to recover naturally, rewilding comes easy.
Skyscapes, cloudscapes, all we have to do is look up, look outwards, look inwards…visions to dream into:
My small painting is part of a series, Serendipity. This is “Serendipity 2”, acrylic on paper, A3…
This landscape, cloudscape, is called “Kgalagadi Pan”, acrylic on stretched canvas, 3 x 2 feet ….
Art installations in landscapes are one of my passions, such as this sand sculpture on the banks of the Save River (Rio Save) which runs through Zimbabwe and through Mozambique all the way to the Indian Ocean, an ancient trade route for our Changana people and the Portuguese traders who sailed their ships along the coast of Africa. The installation, created by Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge for delighted guests at sundown, is enhanced with found objects, stones, by my grandchildren…..
the story of the place, the landscape, unfolds as the fire is lit and burns, as footprints multiply around it on the sand…a progressive story as wind blows, water flows, clouds shift and fire burns….
Inner Landscapes are just as endangered as Wilderness Landscapes in these Covid infested times, when people worldwide suffer isolation and lockdowns, curfews and fear. But there is hope…..
My painting is on exhibition at the National Gallery Zimbabwe… “STATE OF CORONA, The Sun Will Rise Again Post Covid”, (acrylic on canvas, 90 x 128 cm)- this is inspired by traditional African cultural masks and the ‘plague doctor’ with a birdlike mask who operated during medieval times ….
We hold the solution to our own health in our hands, and I have done a series of artworks -paintings and art videos, reflecting our health landscapes during the coronavirus challenge, embracing our place in nature…
Monoprint is a form of art practice that I use to celebrate plant life and landscape, printing directly from plant leaves, from my hands, and from other found objects onto canvas or handmade paper to create art statements – such as this Monoprint from an indigenous Phoenix reclinata palm frond….
“Nothing to Hide”, below, is my finished artwork, mixed media on handmade paper – a comment on our ‘hand print’ on endangered landscape, our ability to change landscape for better, or for worse…our choice!!!!
The palms of my hands and plant palm fronds, play together in my mind as I create art collages to represent the healthy landscape, the need to surround ourselves with nature for our health and well being
Thinking about the worldwide Corona landscape, our personal micro landscapes, the bacteria and micro organisms that live within us and around us worldwide are forces for good and evil…
and so I created a face mask from my original painting, to celebrate nature and reflect the care we should have for our personal landscape and the wider world landscapes..
My art videos, comments on the inner landscape of isolation and covid, are created on iPad and from my charcoal sketches
Our well being, our mental health and happiness, is enhanced by Landscape, by Art, by Nature, by ReWilding…
My view of the great Rio Save …what a landscape!
Here’s my full painting below…“Hands on Hearts”….a celebration of humans in nature, in a healthy landscape…
Hand on Heart is a traditional Changana ( Shangaan/ Tsonga) greeting.
The Social Landscape of traditional human socializing is explored in my painting “To Touch or Not”, acrylic/charcoal on canvas, 2 x 3 feet, online “Summer Exhibition” at Gallery Delta, Harare:
“To Touch or Not to Touch”, acrylic/charcoal on canvas, 3 x 3 feet, online “Summer Exhibition” at Gallery Delta, Harare:
Much like Iberian wolves or African wild dogs, we all need to be ‘part of a pack’…The Inner Landscape, the need for human touch, the need to act as a social animal, is portrayed in my art videos…I use iPad ArtRage to draw and sketch from landscapes and life, finding this to be a direct and powerful tool of expression.
Here is one of my “To Touch or Not” series of sketches, which became an art video…. View my video here: https://youtu.be/SN-u4TI0nTw
My Endangered Landscapes include iconic baobabs and thorn trees in our semi-arid Lowveld areas in Zimbabwe
My landscapes are lived, loved and created with handmade charcoal, oil and acrylic on canvas…..
Myths, tales, legends and literature inspire my artworks, such as the traditional oral folktales of the Changana (Shangaan) people here in Zimbabwe which we have collected over the years, and the myths and fairy tales of Europe.
One of my favourite stories is that of how the Giant African land snail came to be the revered Totem of the local Chauke Clan at Mahenye in the South East corner of Zimbabwe, adjacent to Mozambique. It is fire-related, a fascination for me. I often paint and write about fire. Read more about that story in my related blog
Poetry, my own or in collaboration, inspires me, and I worked with Tsoko Gallery (Marcey Mushore) and the British Embassy in Harare, to record my feelings towards a poem by a local Zimbabwean Poet, Taruwona. Dealing with the inner endangered landscape of human emotions and gender-based violence, my response was two large art canvases, landscapes titled “Fire” and “Water”…..
Using my favourite painting tool, an old palette knife inherited from my father, I inscribed abstract images in acrylic onto canvas. Empowered by my own father’s fair and unconditional love during my childhood and adult years, I felt strong…. Inspired by the history of Chinese brushstroke painting, poetry and calligraphy, I painted….
Here below are my two Poetry-inspired pieces, “A letter to my son, inscribed in Water…” and “A letter to my son, inscribed in Fire…” in response to that amazing and powerful poem.
I have taken Water and Fire as subjects for my abstract “landscape”paintings, symbolism of the trials of life, the challenges faced by men in their fair relationships with women, reflecting the mood of the poem….
Water is gentle, a cleansing element, soothing and meditative, but you can drown in it …..
Fire is fierce, a cleansing element, creative and turbulent, but you can burn up in it……
Here are a few of my sketches for a book launch/ music/art event held in Harare. This book is an Ecological Fantasy – a modern myth (set in a futuristic endangered African landscape), called “Rise of the Vaesons”, written by Zimbabwean author P.J.Odendaal….
Some of my artworks inspired by the tale of “The Rise of the Vaesons”:
“Wild Dog Sisters”…
Thinking books and stories, I support Tikki Hywood Trust in protecting Pangolins in Zimbabwe, (endangered through the illegal wildlife trade). Friend Sarah Savory has written stories about these fascinating animals, which we launched and read to children at a “pangolin weekend” at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge. My own art and photographs, Child Art, Food Art , all are valuable tools in learning about endangered animals, endangered environments. Creative food, stories and art– what better way to engage children and adults alike!?
My iPad goes everywhere with me, ideal for capturing ideas and landscapes……..
My own poetry is a powerful tool which I often use with my mark making…
Body art, in collaboration with my daughter Kelli Barker, Make Up and Body artist, is a strong statement together with my art canvases……..
My endangered landscapes are everywhere, worldwide, within and without…
wherever an ecosystem needs to be rewilded, wherever a sense of well being is needing nurturing…..
“Where Rock Meets Sky”, (acrylic on canvas, 3 x 4 feet)…where my eye meets nature, meets landscape.
All photographs and paintings are property of the artist, Lin Barrie.