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!
My painting “Sabi Stars with broken kudu horns”, (Diptych), is acrylic on stretched canvas, each panel being 3 x 2 feet
Here below is my alpha female wild dog skull- she was killed many years ago by a lion while defending her five-week old pups at the den. I treasure her skull and her memory. (Before you ask, her eight pups survived!….but that is a story for another time…)
Porcupines entrance me, and one in particular, Mr Nhungu, visits our bush garden regularly to nibble at the leftover dog food, or more happily chew on the bark of my favourite trees! And so of course, I paint quills……
Leopards grunt and prowl around our Tsavene bush house, exquisite cats, and so I paint spots… but my paintings are not purely decorative, just as animal skins are not…there is an excessive harvesting of skins for various cultural and decor uses which is not sustainable if we do not become very aware of the finite resource we are abusing…
Life and Death, Predator and Prey, are all the natural cycle of the world we live in, to be celebrated and honoured, not feared… and so my garden inspires me endlessly…
We live to eat, and eat to live and so hunting for food in a sustainable way is part of life, whether we are wild animal or human…
Something killed this warthog, but his memory lives on on my sketch pad…
Giant land snails, often caught and killed by fire or drought, leave behind their exoskeletons… pristine empty white shells which are thereafter joyfully found by me like the jewels in the bush that they are. Prey to me and my pencil….!!
So…. my studio is a cornucopia of treasured objects, laid out on a work table that has seen many years of use.
I relish painting these amazing natural shapes and colours…but the flip side of the coin which preys on my mind is un-natural death, excessive hunting or poaching by wire snare, poison or unwitting use of chemicals and plastics, trade in illegal wildlife products…
Very recently, in conjunction with Parks, we recovered the poor head of a female rhino who had been shot at by poachers. She ran, only to die a lonely death in the mopani ….
A mono-print..inspired by the old skull of a white rhino that I sketched many years ago, when do a mono-printmaking course at Artists Press in White River…
My new diptych, “Winter Woodland and Rhino Skull”. Each canvas panel is 2 x 3 feet. (
Winter is Coming….. as they say in “Game of Thrones”….
Here are bones slowly returning to the earth, from a black rhino poached years ago below our bush house…
Will we soon see only blank space, empty walls with faded memories and old marks, where once were wild rhinos..? A sobering thought- reflected in my photograph “Cable Snare Wire and Rhino Bone…”
The pelvis of this same rhino was a terribly beautiful object, and I have honoured it in paint..
The other-worldly beauty of a vertebra bone, a strange orchid flower or dragon-head shape emerging…. on a lighter note, this could inspire an image for a Game of Thrones dragon….or one of the amazing dragons from the movie “How to Train your Dragon”!!! or indeed, a Star Wars/Darth Vader type creature….
Winter is indeed coming.
Perhaps some of my paintings and photographs will act as a reminder of the fragile beauty with which we are entrusted, and of the mortality that looms if we do not find solutions to the over-use of our worlds resources…
And so I am working towards a solo exhibition…
Living with my life partner Clive Stockil in the lowveld wilderness of Zimbabwe, I document skulls, stones and bones around our house in the Save Valley Conservancy, and I will continue to paint the joy, and sometimes terror, that I find in them.
Disclaimer: With respect to Zimbabwe National Parks rules, no bones, or indeed any objects, must EVER be removed from any National Park. Take only Photographs and leave only Footprints! Any bones I use for sketching and photographing are private collection, and/or with permission – not for any commercial value or sale, and definitely not from any National Parks.
“For our Thai beach holiday, (which was planned to co-ordinate a family holiday with a friends’ wedding), we were delighted and lucky to use Travel Portfolio…I cannot fault the initial itinerary options and efficient friendly feedback that we received from Hayley and all the Travel Portfolio Team.The final result was a seamless and enjoyable holiday, all eventualities planned for, including land and ocean transfers. Travel Portfolio ensured that delightful representatives on the ground at our destination to answer our questions and guide us towards fun tours and activities. A great experience, thanks to the caring Travel Portfolio Team.”
A seamless flight via Singapore’s Changi airport, an airport delightfully filled with orchids ….
and MORE orchids…orchids everywhere- a feast for the senses….
and elegant Koi fish to distract from the tedium of air travel!!……..
Sunset Beach Resort on Phuket Island, Thailand, was a perfectly positioned haven, commanding views of the ocean and sunset, on Kata Beach, north of the busy tourist beach of Patong.
In the late afternoon Muslim food vendors arrived on motorbikes loaded with canopies and cooking utensils to set up their kitchens in front of the rocky beach and the sunset . A delicious way to snack on local delicacies and view spectacular sunsets at the same time, before hitting the nightlife of Bangla Road!
Staff were welcoming, the courtyard swimming pool was surrounded by flowers, palms and birdsong
The Thai massage came highly recommended……and the ocean view bar was a delightful way to start or end the day…..
A free shuttle bus ran regularly from Sunset Beach Resort, to ferry guests to crazy, commercial, busy but fun-filled Patong Beach….!!!!
Our calm and peaceful sunset view:
inspired by rocks and ocean spray, my abstract painting:
For me, meeting long-lost Australian family was a highlight, such special little boys…
The delightful Khun Yai (Miss Yai) was our Tour East representative, who visited us at the resort and answered all our questions with enthusiasm. Her advice was welcome and she directed us to two tours that we really found worthwhile:A full day Andaman sea kayak tour to Phan Nga Bay- on a very comfortable boat, delicious lunch provided (plus the life jackets and safety talks were of very good quality), before we embarked on three man kayaks to explore the limestone caves and bays of the area.
All the guides and the boat host himself were of character- much banter and fun had by all and absolutely spectacular kayaking.
Overhangs of jutting limestone teeth remind me of fossilized dragon’s jaws…
Maybe I have been watching too many dragon movies, such as “How To Train Your Dragon” with Ethan, whose passion for dragons exceeds even mine! Here is his wonderful sketch of “Toothless”:
mangrove trees and roots…inhabited by macaque monkeys and mudskippers!
With the monsoons due to begin, the water was sometimes a bit silted…
Each kayak was manned by a Thai guide and held two guests.
A half day Phuket Tour, viewing and photographing the gorgeous coastline, visiting a cashew nut factory and a stunning gem factory. Cashew flowers:
We caught a comfortable ferry to Koh Phi Phi and were efficiently transported five minutes form the pier by longboat to our next hotel the charming Bay View Resort, situated in the curve of the bay against a steep hill of forest and flowers…and a little bit away from the hustle and bustle of Koh Phi Phi dockside.
Our room was decorated beautifully…..
Sunset on our stretch of the beach, Ko Phi Phi:
Our room had a stunning view of the bay through tall forest trees, filled with fascinating birdlife and various geckos and lizards.
Imperial Pied Pigeons flitted past constantly….a new bird for us, one of the THOUSAND bird species that Thailand boasts!
Our section of the beach was sheltered and it was lovely to swim in the more peaceful waters,
away from the longboat-filled beaches and resorts further towards the pier!!!
Food at various restaurants in Kho Phi Phi was delicious.
Tuna poke bowl:
hot and sour creamy coconut and chicken soup…mmmmmmmm
My paintings were inspired by the coconut palm and ocean sunsets:
Stunning flowers everywhere ….
Wonderful exotic fruits such as rambutans- much like a huge litchi in flavor!!
And of course the infamous Durians beloved of the Chinese, and banned from most establishments due to its pungent odour…
Caught a longboat ferry – fabulous scenery past quaint stilted palm-thatched bungalows perched high against the cliffs…..
to the north of Koh Phi Phi for our friends wedding –
Little boys dressed up…
The stunning venue and scenery made for a perfect event, with a beach-themed cake made by our very own Zimbabwean master chef, Dean Jones!
Dean making last minute adjustments to his creation….
what better than a boat-filled sunset at a beach wedding….
only thing better is a palm-filled sunrise the next day….
on Phi Phi we discovered all sorts of fun stuff: coconut cocktails and fire dancers on the beach, best Pad Thai noodles at a tiny food stall, great donuts made by a Muslim lady in the market and a fabulous dive/snorkel school, with whom we went on a snorkeling trip- very professional and safety conscious/ the sea rather silted due to the beginning of the monsoons but still fascinating- we saw black tip sharks and a turtle, and a myriad of anemones, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, crabs and colorful fish.
Dr. Rosemary Groom presents slides and facts on African wild dogs, (mentored by her baby boy Benjamin!)…and as a full moon rises on the beach, even little Benjamin joins in the fun.
my paintings celebrate wild dogs, aka Painted wolves!
Painted Purple diptych-acrylic on loose canvas, each panel 54 x 39 cm
Jeremy leads happy guests down the road of tasting and appreciating fine wines…
Professional guides such as Clive Stockil lead walks in the wild…stunning Lala Palm and Baobab country near the Tembwehata Pan
The immense “Hunters Baobab” near Tembweharta Pan, also called Shadreck’s Baobab! Admired by Jeremy….
Clive and Jeremy discuss weighty matters at sundown…
what could be better than a wine tasting on the banks of the great Save River?!
gorgeous Alpha female seen by guests, near Chipinda…
Jermey and Emma, what a team for Painted Wolf Wines!
Adventure awaits Clive and Emma on a safari drive across the Save River into Gonarezhou National Park…
Wild dog photos by Xenia Kuhn – how special, seeing a den with adult wild dogs !
No one saw actual pups – who hid down the den in the limited time that people were able to the be at the den- but everyone saw adult dogs after a long drive and a Chilojo Cliffs trip … very rewarding. Dear friend Ajit St John even wrote a poem about those magnificent cliffs….
Everyone joined the wine tasting on the beach,
gorgeous snacks on the edge of the Gonarezhou wilderness,
my sunset in Africa, Save River with a glass of Painted Wolf Wine….mmmmmmmm
At the last light, a stunning photograph of the guests by Martin Harvey, as we end the day…..
So… if you want to be part of the next fantastic event, please join us!!
The views from Chilo rooms and decks are always inspiring….
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