Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eastern Cape game parks

The Eastern Cape - indeed South Africa as a whole - is blessed with a plethora of game parks. It is one of the major bonuses of living here. You are able to escape into the wilderness, commune with nature and recharge your batteries. Anway, the following sketches were done during a couple of ventures into the veld.

A couple of years back we stayed in an isolated guest house in the Cradock Mountain Zebra National Park. We were paid regular visits by vervet monkeys. This is one of them - looking a bit liked a masked robber - beside an aloe.

The guest house was a historic building from, if I recall correctly, way back in the 19th century. Its whitewashed walls blazed furiously in the bright summer sun. Here I enjoyed the shape of this detail.

There is a separate bell - slave bell? - next to the house.

The knobbly nature of the adjacent mountains is a feature of the landscape.

The harsh reality of life in the wild. This skull - possibly that of a baboon - was lying in the veld not far from the house.

Inside the living room, another skull. Only this time the antelope skull and horns was tastefully mounted and hanging from the wall.

No, not oranges or grapefruit, but giant ostrich eggs, which were in a bowl on the lounge table.

Moving further north, we once again found ourselves on the farm near Steynsburg where my wife Robyn's grandparents farmed. These are some of the distinctive mountains there.

Another view of a mountain slope.

You can't live in Port Elizabeth without visiting the Addo Elephant National Park, which is just a couple of hours drive away. But have you ever tried drawing elephants? Large though they are, they don't keep still for long. Also they are rather intimidating.

While drawing these leviathans from life yields results which are not always satisfactory, the alternative of working from photos is simply not on. You then move into the realm of "wildlife art", the height of kitsch. In fact, I rather enjoy the loose, erratic line quality, which reflects the animals' continual movement.

A few lines and you have an elephant.

Addo is characterised by the dense thicket, just tall enough to conceal a massive herd of elephants. Indeed, many have visited the park after rain and not seen an elephant! When they don't need to come down to the watering holes, they can be as elusive as a Knysna warbler. Anyway, there are high points in the park from where you can get views like this of the rolling hills. On one occasion we saw a flock of blue cranes gracing the plains below us.

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