“Fallen Tree”, acrylic on loose canvas, 85 x 200 cm is my painting of the incredible mopani winter woodland in the lowveld of Zimbabwe at this time of year, russet red leaves, filtered light at dawn and dusk and always, as I drive slowly through the landscape of the Save Valley Conservancy, the promise of wild dog dens…
Near the den of the Mbungu Pack, in deep woodland, monitored by the African Wildlife Conservation Fund, (AWCF), I know that at any moment I could spot the dogs…
Deep red leaves and golden lion’s mane grass frame my search…
There they are!… the wild dogs lie and doze, waiting for the cool of evening to begin a hunt
Dogs in Mopani 1, acrylic on loose canvas, 70 x 105 cm
…camouflaged like the patterns of persian carpets in the rust red mopani leaves…
Where do coats begin and leaves end?… a glorious medley of colour….truly a painters delight, and I love the alternative common name for these gorgeous tricolor hunters, Painted Wolves…. or Painted Dogs…
Mopani camouflage, acrylic on canvas, 88 x 88 cm
My painting “Pep Rally” (acrylic/oil bar on canvas, 130 x 100 cm) is typical of the interaction between young wild dogs just before they go hunting.
Exuberant and social, they bolster each others confidence, rearing up and playing..
Pep Rally I, acrylic on loose canvas, 90 x 88 cm
galloping and twisting sinuously in the growing pale light of the rising moon…
Painted Wolf Pep Rally, acrylic on loose canvas, 53 x 97 cm…
The hunters soon disappear into the mopani dusk with white tails flashing, as a full moon rises……
they vanish into the surrounding woodland, hunting food for the alpha female who waits patiently at the den with her pups ..
Originally posted on Global Health Diaries: As each nation mobilizes its communities to combat COVID-19, a virus that knows no borders, the global community unites in solidarity. Our new series, titled “In the World With COVID-19,” features reflective perspectives on…
In all my travels and wandering there is one constant, one inspiration… The all encompassing sky above me…….
I’ve looked at clouds
From both sides now…...
From Up and Down…..
And still somehow
It’s clouds illusions I recall.….
I really don’t know clouds,
Sunrise, sunset, starry skies and full rising moons, the landscapes of the Save River below Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, Gonarezhou National Park and the horizons around my Tsavene Bush house in the Save Valley Conservancy are prime inspiration.
But the world is my oyster, clouds are my starting point and my point of departure, because without clouds, big skies, moody moons and sunsets just could not be the same!
From my homeland Zimbabwe, but also from the aqua and cerise skies of Thailand, the roseate skies of Florida, the warm and spicy skies of the Mediterranean and from the looming skies of wet season Kalahari, I draw amazement and inspiration.
So, this little A3 size abstract is from my “Serendipity” series…
As is this…
This is my wallpaper, Night Sky….(see the Clouds of Magellan)?! created in collaboration with Robin Sprong Wallpaper.
I have linked some of my large abstract paintings with similar sky photographs that I have taken on the banks of the Save River, below Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, on the edge of Gonarezhou, and at my bush house in the Save Valley Conservancy– browse on!
Big Sky with clouds of mysterious hue, on the sands of the Save River….
Kgalagadi Pan , acrylic on stretched canvas, 3 x 2 feet
and my painting, Sunset Impression, acrylic on loose canvas, 102 x 78 cm
After the Storm, acrylic on stretched canvas, 2 x 3 feet
Big Sky, acrylic on loose canvas, 101 x 178 cm
Bushveld Dawn, acrylic on loose canvas, 88 x 90 cm
Copper Dawn, acrylic on loose canvas, 90 x 88 cm
New Dawn diptych 2, and 1, acrylic on canvas, 2 x 2 feet – how I imagine waking up on the Algarve….Portugal!
Plum Horizon, flying high, up or down, clouds from both sides!?!
Skyscape, acrylic on stretched canvas, 2 x 3 feet
inspiration is never ending….
Strange new dawn, acrylic on loose canvas, 85 x 180 cm
Covering your wall with something powerful, something soft, something you, is always fun, and if they are abstract (landscape, wind, water and sky related), they are truly timeless, I think….whether you are traveling to Boutique hotels, Spas, Bush camps or City lodges, wallpaper rocks!
What a dreamy colour- Classic Blue is the Pantone Colour of the year for 2020…night skies, meditation and dreams abound! and it is a colour I love painting with, as you can see from the following moodboards, pairings of my artworks and roomscapes….and what fun to take the same Pantone Classic Blue room and place my various paintings within that, as such different feelings emerge!
Marhumbini Mission, by Clive Stockil, Lin Barrie and Mr. Lyson Masango, with Chilo guides John, Tor and Jasper…..
Insights to the history of the Marhumbini Mission and those that occupied this remote location, close to the Mozambique border in the south east of Zimbabwe.
Gonarezhou National Park is “Place of the Elephants” now, but it has a fascinating and important history of human habitation…..
Here are some insights to the history of the Marhumbini Mission and the Changana (Xangana) people and other settlers that occupied this remote location, close to the Mozambique border in the south east of Zimbabwe. A visit to the site, now within the Gonarezhou National Park, was undertaken by Clive Stockil and Chilo Gorge Safari Guides, accompanied by Lyson Masango who was the founder teacher after the opening of the Marhumbini Mission School:
The magnificent baobab sentinel that stands below Spraggen’s Hill, is apparently near the old mission school site…
…it dwarfs Tor and Jasper, Chilo guides who are accompanying us…
A pot shard is found, evidence of previous village life, we are on the right track….!
Success! Hunting further afield, we find bricks and foundations from the church at Marhumbini mission….. Photos taken 15th September 2019
Even the floor slab of the church building still shows itself…and some of the water worn pebbles used in the cement foundations, evidence of a pre-historic, vast body of water which would have covered these now arid areas…
Lyson Masango –something about this distinguished gentleman...
Born on the 15th December 1947 in the Mahenye area. Attended the Mahenye primary school where he complete Sub A Sub B and Standard 1, 2 & 3. He then completed his junior education at Lundi Mission where he successfully completed Standards 4, 5 & 6. He was then sponsored by Henry Koopman and his wife Florence Fleming to attend the teacher training college at Matopos. After graduating as a teacher He returned to take up the teaching post at Mahenye Primary School in May 1965 where he taught for one year. After completing the construction of the Marhumbini primary school Henry Koopman invited Masango to become the first teacher at the school where he taught for two years, returning to Mahenye at the end of 1967.
The school was situated approximately 100 metres east of the Church, and was constructed of unburned clay bricks with mud for mortar, under grass thatch roof. Only one classroom was constructed, which accommodated between 50 and 60 pupils. Masango was the only teacher and he taught three classes – Sub A, Sub B and Standard 1. He was a government employee and received 20 pounds sterling per month.
Mr. Masango was elected by the Mahenye community in 1982 to chair the Mahenye Wildlife Committee, the forerunner to CAMPFIRE. In 1988 after the establishment of the CAMPFIRE Association he was appointed the first chairman of the Mahenye ward.
He retired in 2010 and resides in the Mahenye village.
The Story of the Elephant and Mr Masango:
Elephants, baobabs and people have a long history in the lowveld of Zimbabwe, often traumatic, always challenging………real stories of high drama abound…
‘In February 2015 Mr. Masango was extremely fortunate to survive an encounter with an elephant. Whilst guarding his maize field in the early hours before dawn, around four o’clock in the morning, he approached a large elephant bull that had started feeding on the mature maize. Armed with a small torch (flashlight) and an old pot upon which he beat, he attempted to scare the bull away. Suddenly the bull charged and knocked him over, trampling him into the ground, but thankfully missing his body with its lethal tusks, which dug into the earth either side of him. It proceeded to scrape a hole in the ground into which the unconscious man was flung. After the elephant had covered his body with soil, it left him for dead. He lay there for several hours in the darkness, in an unconscious state, but finally revived enough to crawl back to a tree, where he was located by villagers who were hunting for him by dawn and heard his shouts for help. He suffered three broken ribs, and massive internal bruising. Later in the day rangers and a professional hunter followed up and found the bull in thick bush not far away. It was decided to put the elephant down as it was seen as a threat to the village. It was only then they discovered the sad reason for its aggressive behaviour. The bull had survived poachers bullets, 9 AK47 bullets being found in the forehead of the elephant.’
More fascinating history:
Dickson Sithole was a local Hlengwe /Xangan resident who was groomed by the Assembly of God to become the pastor of the Church at Marhumbini Mission. He resided at the base of the Spraggen hill.
Tigere and Mazarire were employed by Shabani Mine as drivers. Shabani Mine had set up a labour recruiting base at Marhumbini, and a road was constructed between the Marhumbini recruiting base and the Beit Bridge/Masvingo road, through what is now the Gonarezhou National Park. Tigere and Mazarire would provide a weekly shuttle service between the recruiting base and the mine.
Spraggen Hill is a small hill overlooking the Marhumbini Mission site, above the “sentinel” baobab…
GPS –Coordinates – 21’20,04 S – 032’22,01 E
The original house on top of the hill was built by Mark Spraggen sometime in the mid-1920’s and which he occupied until the mid-1940. After being vacant for some time a lease was granted to Reverend Koopman with the intention of building a mission station. Mr. Masango says that Reverend and Mrs Koopman used this house on their visits to Marhumbini. The Koopmans were based in Fort Victoria (now Masvingo)
Contrary to common understanding, Mr Masango confirmed that lowveld character Blake Thompson never occupied this house. After Mark Spraggen’s departure, the house was only used by members of the Assembly of God during the time the Marhumbini mission was in operation. The mission was finally closed in 1968.
So, the question now arose, where in this arid area of historical elephant hunting and mine labour recruitment, did the legendary and much-loved Blake Thompson reside?!….
We were soon to discover, upon climbing another nearby hill which was starkly clothed in elephant-pruned mopani stumps…….
Clive named it the Blake (Mudiwa) Thompson Hill, GPS – Coordinates – 21’19,38 – S – 032’22,92 – E
Mr. Masango was eager to get to the top in search of evidence, gracefully assisted in the heat of the day by Pro-guide John, with Tor flanking…..
Success…. at last the summit was gained and foundations were found!
This recruiting base was established in the early 1950’s by the Shabani Mine. Blake Thompson was employed by the mine to administer the base, which included carrying out medical examinations on all recruits. Mudiwa, as he was commonly known, (meaning ‘loved one’ in the Karanga language), was well-liked by the local residents of the Marhumbimi, Chisa and Mahenye communities.
Clive well remembers meeting Blake when just a child, visiting the house accompanied by his grandfather. Clive was over-awed by the pomp with which Blake, dressed in starched KD’s and a white vest, summoned a bugle player and raised the Union Jack upon their arrival !
Blake Thomson returned to Shabani Mine headquarters in 1956 due to ill health.
It would appear that Blake was partial to eggs, as he would encourage local residents to bring him eggs, for which he would pay a ticky each (threepence). Children attending the mission school would pass by with an egg or two, and the money received would be spent at the mission shop to buy sugar and salt, which would get taken home after school.
After a well-spent morning discovering these snippets of history, we drive back through the enigmatic mopani of the great Gonarezhou. Elephant bones and water worn pebbles near the Mission site remind us of the cycles of life and death, drought and flood…
After we re-cross the Rundle River, on our way to the Save River, a young elephant suddenly blocks our road, scenting us with trunk held high and determined not to give way. Part of a much larger herd scattered over the road, this particular elephant on this particular day has undeniable attitude. Mr. Masango shivers, his memories kicking in …….
Understanding body language and attitude is half the success to avoiding conflict with our Gonarezhou elephants…and Clive makes a wise and polite decision for everybody. He detours to another road, leaving the elephants to their space…and calming Mr. Masango’s mind.
As we cross the great Save river, back towards Chilo Gorge Lodge and our fish lunch, young Mahenye girls are walking backwards through the cool water, trawling with their hands to catch their fish lunch – gobies on the sandy river bed!
I am reminded of the divide between communities and wildlife; villagers and National Park; this being the contact zone where elephants drink and ladies do their washing, where crocodiles lurk and herdboys water their cattle…
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!