Thursday, February 26, 2009


A street artist known as Asbestos has painted an awesome series focused on the hands of fellow street artists. He prefers to paint on discarded surfaces such as weathered wood and tin that he finds on the streets. These hands are so expressive. They touch my heart.

"The hands have been a revelation to paint. They're the tools that seperate us from the animals. They can create and they can destroy and that's why they're so fascinating to paint. Each pair has it's own grain that highlights the personality of the owner." - Asbestos

See the rest of the series here.

After discovering the art of Asbestos at Wooster Collective, beautiful hands seemed to pop up everywhere.

Nickie Owens has painted a hand series which you can see here.

"As a budding artist I was told by my Mum that one of the great painters (I can’t remember who) always struggled with hands and would have an understudy finish his work.
So began my obsession. I thought if I could draw / paint hands I would be great... I just became great at hands!"

The beautifully stitched and collaged hands of Karin Bartimole. You need to visit her blog, Beyond Words, and enlarge her amazing journal pages to see all the details.

SantaCruz-CuevaManos, Argentina. Photo from Wikipedia

Photographs of hands in cave paintings have fascinated me since I was a little girl. They were painted 9,300 to 13,000 years ago. The hand was held against the cave wall and paint was sprayed through a hollow bone pipe to colour the area around the hand.

This photograph was taken by Pim at the Wat Rong Khun temple in Thailand. Donations are thrown into the pot surrounded by grasping hands. You can see Pim's photostream at Flickr.

Etching by Vladimir Gazovic

Drawing Hands by M C Escher

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Cherry Leaf Circle

Today I dicovered the work of Richard Shilling, a self taught land artist and sculptor living and working in Lancaster in the North West of England.

Cliff Pebble Stack

"My work usually consists of ephemeral sculptures made from natural materials found round and about where the sculpture is made. What comes from nature soon returns to it be it in a few short minutes, hours or days: everything is reclaimed by the sun, tide or wind. My work focuses on the structures, processes and forms of nature and the sculptures attempt to reveal a fresh perspective on what we know about the materials and processes inherent in nature. A particular tree during a particular autumn flush of colour may afford the land artist the opportunity to reveal all the colours of autumn. This chance may come only for a few days and during a particularly good season. Such is the work of the land artist – to attempt to reveal elements of nature at first unseen both to themselves and to anyone viewing their work."

Pebble Colour Bars

I've spent several hours browsing through Richard's work on his blog here and his flickr site here. There are a lot more amazing images where these came from.

Dam and Square

Vertical Stack

Frost Sun

Leaf Curtain

The most intriguing part of these leaf sculptures is that they are held together with thorns.

Autumn Fade

The leaves used in Autumn Fade are all natural colours. I had to look twice, wondering if some of them had been stained. After a wet summer the leaves are more vibrant than usual because of the extra sugars present. Read more about this piece here.

Leaf Spiral. Chestnut Tree leaves and thorns

Richard mentions that he copied Goldsworthy's leaf spiral in order to study the way that it is made. Read the blog post about it here. I think it is as complicated as it looks!

If you've enjoyed looking at Richard Shilling's work you might also enjoy the work of South African Land Artist, Strijdom van der Merwe, here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The sound of a river sighing as it rushes by is good for the soul. Sweltering days followed by long stretches of rain have made it well nigh impossible to get any work done outside, but today as the sun slid behind a thick bank of cloud I bolted out to get some carving done. The river is quite full now which makes it louder than usual. As I relaxed into the rythm of carving the water sounds lulled me into a wonderful sense of calm. Work that made me grumpy last week because of the hard knotty wood I'm using, suddenly seems to flow without a hitch. It's as if a log jam has unwedged itself. Running water has a calming effect on me. Apparently it has something to do with the negative ions in the water.

"Being near water, especially moving water, gets ideas to flow." Dr Henriette Klauser proclaims,
"Studies show that people can react with headaches and fatigue when the air is charged with too many positive ions, due to such things as modern air-conditioning, television transmitters, and seasonal winds. To counteract this, so-called "negative air ionizers" generate an abundance of electrons in the air, making people more energetic and creative".
One can feel the benefits of negative ions in the air when walking in the woods, on a beach or near a river, breathing fresh air after rain or even taking a shower. They are more concentrated in the areas where there is moisture in the air caused by the breaking of the surface tension of water.
At the Health Benefit of Water site I found more information.
Natural negative ions can have have many benefits, like:
~enhance the immune system

~increase alertness
~increase work productivity and concentration
~reduce susceptibility to colds and flu
~relief from sinus, migraine headaches, allergies and hay fever
~reduce the severity of asthma attacks
~increase lung capacity
~stabilize alpha rhythms
Negative ions can also treat depression.
There's quite a lot of information about negative ions on google. Very interesting reading. It certainly explains why we feel so good near the ocean or after a shower.

Monday, February 9, 2009


The Giraffe Manor hotel is a typical British manor house in Nairobi with views of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the south and the Ngong Hills to the west. When Jock and Betty Melville bought the manor in 1974 they moved 2 endangered Rothschild giraffe onto the estate.

The giraffe thrived and today visitors can see a few more of these magnificent creatures loping about the hotel grounds.

There is a circular platform 9 feet above the ground where one can tempt them with oats...

......or one can simply invite a lanky friend to share one's own breakfast in the dining room.

Beware the 18 inch tongue that might slurp the food right off your plate.

Where's everyone?

Hey, time to come down for breakfast.

All photographs from The Giraffe Manor site. See more here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Taschen has published yet another fabulous decor book. I was lucky enough to receive African Interiors by Deidi Von Schaewen for Christmas and have been reading it at every opportunity. Almost every page is radiant with colour and pattern. Deidi spent 4 years travelling across Africa taking these magnificent photographs for the book. Ohhhhh wouldn't you love to do that? Granted, Africa is hot and there are many areas where water is as scarce as the amenities but what an amazing adventure!
The cover of the book features the brightly patterned walls inside a house in Selibadi. Just one room in each house is painted this way and this is usually the woman's domain where the focus is on daily life, cooking and daily tasks. (See the photograph at the top of the post as well).
This photograph was taken in the Bamako studio of photographer Malick Sidibe. He records the affluent side of life in Mali as well as the ritual ceremonies of hunters in the bush. His studio is filled with photographic paraphernalia, much of which is very old.

Next we have a peek into the home of Alan Donovan, an exporter of African craftwork who is stationed in Nairobi. There were many photos I wanted to show from this house because each room is filled with the most wonderful artefacts.

The African textiles decorating the house are stunning! I can see Kuba cloth, Bark cloth, Mud cloth and many textiles I don't recognize at all. Just look at the appliqued cloths in the bedroom above. The Kuba cloths originated when holes in the fabric were repaired. Patches were sewn over the holes and these developed into the traditional design motifs that are so typical of these cloths.

The image above shows a wall in the bedroom of Not Vital a Swiss sculptor who has built himself a house in Agadez. The camels, which are Vitals own handywork, fit very well with the Berber look of the house. I love this image and keep returning to it.

Susanne Wenger is an Austrian artist who has lived in Oshogbo for the last 50 years. She founded a creative school called the Mbari Mbayo Club which means "when we see it, we're happy". Her artwork whether it is carved wood or cement sculptures, batiks or paintings seem to grow like "rampant plants". She keeps on extending and enveloping her surroundings with these mythical artworks.

This image was taken in the house of Murad Grace, on the edge of Cairo. He and his wife have decorated their home with ancestral objects such as the pieces of Nile pottery you see above.

I have a penchant for weathered wooden doors like this one in a Berber house in Matmata. There is very little furniture in these homes and I must say I'm leaning toward this way of life. We just seem to have far too much "stuff". Think of how we could cut down on housework if we got rid of even half our possessions.

Last but not least this gorgeous giraffe at The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. They peer in through windows and doors at the hotel guests.
"I'm sure there's someone at the window George."
"Don't worry dear, it's just a giraffe".

Thursday, February 5, 2009


With the event of Bug learning to fly across the room and back , we decided it was time to pay the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre a visit.

The young intern who greeted us on our arrival was happy to show us around and introduce us to each of the residents at the centre. Trotting at his heels was Piggy the young warthog who loves to be scratched even more than eating his favourite meal.

There are quite a few traumatised animals at the centre so I didn't like to photograph them until near the end when the intern mentioned that I might like to take a few photos.

I think my favourite creature was the baby bushpig that arrived in a 500g margerine tub. He was so tiny and malnourished that nobody expected him to survive but they introduced him to a farm pig hoping the two would bond. It was love at first sight! Little bushpig has now grown from margerine tub size to shoebox size and he won't budge unless farm pig is with him.

The Genet kittens climbed out of their hutch and onto the roof to inspect the visitors....

There were several Reedbuck and Duiker, a shy Jackal, an owl and many injured egrets that only just survived a terrible storm we had a few weeks ago.

Inside the feeding room were several baby birds that will be Bug's roomates for the next week or so. A Fork-tailed Drongo on one side and a Golden Oriel on the other. The news that really pleases my heart is that there are two other Thrushes (one an Olive Thrush like Bug), only a week or two older than he is. They are already in the outside aviaries but once Bug is able to feed himself completely he will move out to be with them. When they are ready to leave, the aviary will be opened and they can fly off whenever they feel like it and return if they want to at night or for a snack. A Red Wing Starling that was released 2 months ago returns every morning for a 3 course meal, starting with mango and ending with meel worms. I like this arrangement because the birds can just ease into the wild at their own pace.

It was with heavy hearts that we drove away from the wildlife centre. I know we left Bug in very capable hands but it was sad all the same. The thing that I keep reminding myself is that he has a far better chance out in the open countryside than in a built up area and to have the opportunity to bond with another Olive Thrush before taking flight is a huge bonus.