THE ADVENTURES AND LIFE OF AN ARTIST
A lifetime as an artist!
As I am totally self taught, creating and making have been my life since childhood. I was always painting and sewing and the only prizes I ever got at school was for art - nothing too academic!
Making one-of-a-kind clothes introduced me to working with different substrates and when I started to paint wildlife many years ago, I just carried the knowledge gained from working on silk, leather and other materials on to my artwork.
Through donating or selling my artwork to benefit the various wildlife conservation charities with which I have been involved, I have travelled to many exotic and magical places which is a supreme privilege to see animals where they belong - in the wild, sadly before there is no wild left for them.
India initially to see tigers in Ranthambore, Kanha and Corbett National Parks. To see a magnificent tiger walking the path in front of me was an experience I will always treasure. There is considerable pressure on these big cats as they are poached for their body parts and skins. There is more international awareness on this problem and severe sentencing on the Mr. Bigs of this dark world.
Borneo to see the Red Buddha - orang utans who are 97% the same DNA as humans and are our cousins. How can we see them disappear because of our greed and need for the palm oil which is now wiping out their habitat. To look into their eyes and see another intelligent sentient being, is a memory I will never forget.
Antarctica was breathtaking, sublime and ethereal. The trip of a lifetime and if I never travel anywhere again,have fantastic memories of this magical continent. It was a huge privilege to camp on Antarctica for one night and was one of the highlights of this adventure. I became involved in the rat eradication programme on South Georgia as these feral animals had decimated the indigenous bird population. This was done in 3 phases and the birdlife is coming back now as there are no predators any more. I paid for a hectare of land in perpetuity in the name of all my grandchildren, when I told them this was their Christmas present, the younger ones looked at me like I was bonkers! I told one of the older grandsons who was doing his Duke of Edinburghs award that this could be his project to go to South Georgia and look for Grandma's piece of land - but Grandma had to come too!!
When we visited Sri Lanka I lost my heart to a tiny orphan elephant in The Elephant Transit Home in Uda Walawe in the south of this beautiful island. It was during the civil war and she had become separated from her herd. She was a tiny, woolly mammoth and very frail. She was being fed every couple of hours with a tube and formula milk. They cry tears like humans and my heart was breaking to see her so sad, so as her sole 'foster mother, I adopted her and kept her in elephant formula milk for 4 years from the sale of my artwork before she was released back to the wild. I was allowed to name her as her human 'Mummy' - she is called Florence (Nightingale) - what else could it be! Whenever I return which is most years, many of the friends I have made there call me 'Elephant Mummy' and are almost tearful to know that I have to travel half across the world to see this baby elephant, but through her I have made some lovely friends. However, when we last visited in 2019 and found her in the Park, the dedicated vet Dr. Vijitha Perera told me she may be pregnant! There are some lovely wild boys out there so I may now be promoted to 'Elephant Grandma'.
This is Florence when I first saw her, tiny and frail and being fed every 2 hours with a tube and formula milk. Sadly not all of the babies survive, so great has been the trauma of losing their mother and family herd.
Self feeding Flo one last time before her release in 2007. She gently laid her trunk on my head and then she walked away. Too many tears for this wonderful animal! Wild she was born and wild she should be.
Release day with 9 of her friends. Collar ready to track her, but she is confused at this strange sensation of being in the lorry. Release time into the park - all that lovely food to eat!!
These are wildlife conservation organisations some of which I have been involved. They all do magnificent work to preserve the animals and habitat that share our planet and are deserving of any help we can give.
Elephant Transit Home, Uda Walawe, Sri Lanka www.eth.dwc.gov.lk
Born Free, worldwide. www.born free.org
David Shepherd Wildlife Trust. www.davidshepherd.org
Wildlife Protection Society of India (does amazing work against tiger poaching) www.wpsi.org
Snow Leopard Trust. Working with local communities to save this big cat. www.snowleopard.ord
David Sheldrick Trust - working with orphan elephants in Africa. www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
South Georgia Heritage Trust - rat eradication on this remote island. www.sght.org
Fat and fit in the wild, January 2019 and possibly pregnant!
This is Rajan, the last logging elephant in the Andaman Islands. I had to go and see him as he was 62 years old. Spent one memorable morning helping scrub behind his ears!! He died
aged 66 - a remarkable age for a truly magnificent animal.