Art has always been a passion, along with animals, wildlife, nature and travel. For as long as I can remember I sketched and drew animals from an early age... and I think I always knew art (in some form) would play a large part of my life. I took art through College to Bursary level, but life’s many twists and turns lead me away from a dream of going to study a Fine Arts course, and I opted to travel instead. Over the years I've worked mainly in administration and graphics, whilst only painting or drawing periodically, I've always pursued some kind of creative hobby though, including pottery and mosaics!
A passion for "traditional art", particularly wildlife art, was reignited when in 2008 as a kind of stress relief from having a 'leaky home' at the time, I sketched a giraffe in graphite pencil ("Tall Blonde"), an artwork which will always remain on my own wall! It wasn’t long before I realised that painting and drawing is simply what I love to do... finally finding a niche as an ‘artist’ today!
I love to travel and aged 21, I left familiar shores for the obligatory Kiwi O.E., backpack in hand and headed to London. Mostly based in the UK, I was lucky to spend most my time living and working in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland, then Switzerland and Japan for winter ski seasons.
Africa beckoned strongly, and in 1990 I took an overland safari from Nairobi, Kenya to Capetown, South Africa. Seeing the African wildlife in person is something very special to experience. I hope I'm lucky enough to return to Africa one day with the aid of a digital SLR camera, instead of the film SLR I had in those days!
After returning to New Zealand it was discovered the safari truck on which I travelled on (Africa Hinterland), was set up as a front as part of an arms-smuggling operation for the ANC, South Africa. Along with our innocent cargo of camping gear and Lonely Planet guidebooks, the fellow Kiwi & Aussie passengers and myself 'roughed it' from Nairobi to Capetown on a 7-week "trip of a lifetime", unmittingly sitting on a stash of smuggled AK47s, pistols, limpet mines, grenades, TNT and ammunition.
Africa Hinterland continued to operate after Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990, and the converted army trucks made 40 trips altogether, carrying a tonne of arms each time into the troubled country. The details were revealed in 2001 in a South African television documentary called "The Secret Safari"
A trip to Dubai and India in 2007 was a little less dramatic, but no less exciting! A highlight of the trip being on my absolute last day in India, getting in the river and helping to scrub elephants with a coconut shell, it was such a magical experience! Here is a YouTube video I uploaded "elephant washing experience"
Having returned to my hometown of Marlborough, New Zealand, I happily paint from a beachside studio at Rarangi. Mainly working in pastel, scratchboard & oils, subjects include mostly animals (pet portraits & wildlife), whilst also enjoying portraits. I am constantly inspired by many talented artists and friends from around the globe and have found the modern day networking sites invaluable. Rarely apart from my camera, I value photography as both a tool for my art and an art form in it’s own right.
It's fantastic to see the endless passion and efforts of tireless campaigners for animal conservation - the dwindling species through ongoing poaching and man encroaching into these animals' territories is incredibly sad and barbaric. I just hope that through my artwork, I can help in a small way, to give something back to help animal conservation (see my donations page).
Pictured at right donating a framed Giclee Print of "Vigilance"
to Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch.)
I'm an active member of the Marlborough Art Society and the
Pastel Artists of New Zealand, PANZ.
Juried in as a Master Scratchboard Artists (MSA) of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists
You can find a selection of my original paintings, prints & cards at:-
Lilac Wine, Vines Village, Rapaura Road, Blenheim
David Johnston Gallery, Queen St, Blenheim
Xue Gallery (Gifts on Grove), Grove Road, Blenheim
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
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