For a number of years now, I have been intrigued by Lycaon pictus – not a dog, not a wolf, not a hyena – but a very special creature. Known as the wild dog, Cape hunting dog, African hunting dog and painted dog and also known as the painted wolf – which is the nearest translation to the scientific name. As a species they used to roam in most parts of Africa, but more recently packs have been reduced to around 6 500.
As an artist I do think deeply about my subjects, only that I am in love with animals and especially those which are endangered. Wild dogs kept appearing in my sketches and searches for subject matter to print. What I love most about these enigmatic creatures is their sense of family and community as well as being delightful and gentle.
A lack of understanding by farmers and land owners, of these beautiful dogs, has led to a war with man, leading to their near extinction. It’s a testament to their resilience, tenacity and strength that they are alive today.
In 2019 I had a solo exhibition in conjunction with The Real McKay – a space in Linden, Johannesburg. I made contact with The Painted Wolf Foundation https://paintedwolf.org/ and asked them to be part of the exhibition.
Please have a look at what they do for these wonderful creatures and donate to the worthy cause of keeping them from extinction.
Often, my printmaking is a reflection of what I am seeing right in front of me. I have a million and one ideas, because the information is coming in fast! I want to take pictures of everything, and I want to make prints of it all. My sister and I went on a walking tour in Berlin in 2018 on one of my visits there.
I saw many many crows, in fact the only bird sound was of the crows, squawking overhead. Granted I have never been in the summertime, and so it is possible that there are other birds, I just never heard many. There were a couple of little sparrows sitting on tables, but mostly, I saw crows.
On the walking tour of the graffiti in Berlin, we stopped at a road crossing and right in front of me, were these legs in stockings with stripes and to the left of them a crow checking them out. This image is about that – just a memory of Berlin at that time.
One of the most difficult things for artists to do, is to collaborate, working on the same pieces of art together, to create something different together. Often different styles and methods.
On Fridays, when I print with other artists at the Artist Proof Studio, I work with a wonderful young man called Ben Mpande, who for the artists coming to work there, is the studio artist support manager.
Ben is a fourth year student at the APS and one day asked if I would be willing to collaborate with him.
Well, I was blown over! It’s not the first time one of the students have asked, and most times, I am flattered but I do not take up the offer. Mostly, because I am not sure that my printing is up to scratch, and I feel somewhat shy, or I wonder if they are serious.
This time however, I thought that it would be a fantastic way for me to loosen up, let go of my ego, see what happens. Ben’s work is about the Immigrants from the rest of Africa and how they find Johannesburg and any other city for that matter. He uses images of fish as a metaphor for the immigrants. Ben Mpande‘s work is here on Instagram.
As our collaboration, we decided Ben would create backgrounds, then I would add shoes as the metaphor I have for immigrants in Joburg, often tatty shoes which walk the streets endlessly in search of work, food or a place to live. As a final step Ben would add the fish imagery. The images below are just some of those which we have started working on together. Here are some of the works in progress.
Ben has added some fish to a few of these prints and I will add them on Friday.