The Animal Art Fair is around the corner (Fulham Palace, 5th - 8th May) and we're huge supporters. We've persuaded artist Amy Sandys-Lumsdaine to share some of her experiences and passions for travelling to capture wildlife in their various art forms.
A love of the wild…
A love of the wild enticed me to Kenya in 1997 from the urban jungle of London. The climate and epic landscapes of the Great Rift invites one to explore new places that reveal spectacular views and hidden adventure. Based in Nairobi, my husband and I fly most weekends to locations throughout the country in our light plane.
Quickie weekends around Kenya
The plane is our 'time machine' and allows us to work in Nairobi and take 'quickie' weekend safaris where I can sketch, paint and photograph the wildlife, people and landscapes of this magnificent country. I take these back to my rooftop studio and develop them into finished works and large scale oils.
Rich concentration of wildlife
One such recent trip was to the Mara to stay at Kilima Camp, a tented camp set on the Siria Escarpment overlooking the south-western Mara 'Triangle'. Wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, supported by the fertile grasslands adjacent to the Mara River.
Deterring the toothy beasts
After a spectacular flight over the Great Rift Valley, we land on an unpaved airstrip and put the plane 'to bed', remembering to spray underneath with fabric conditioner; a locally proven deterrent against toothy beasts gnawing the tyres and other soft bits of our plane.
A feast for the eyes
We are met at the air strip by the Kilima car, load our cargo of boxes of food for the camp and head off up the Escarpment for some ice-cold tinctures. The previous night there was pandemonium when a zebra was killed by two lions, immediately in front of the tents. Out in the grasslands we come across a fresh lion kill; the male having first dibs on the spoils whilst the females, having done all the work, rest in the shade of a tree. Nearby is a cheetah dining on a recent Tommy kill. This is a feast for the eyes!! I sketch, trying to capture the moment; the tilt of the head, a glint in the eye, the twist of the body. Where does the sunlight fall on the fur flowing around the neck? Which hues illuminate the shadows? After a few hours I have a cache of notes, photos and sketches and we head back for sundowners by the log fire; the sky is awash with crimson and gold.
Magic of the Maasai Mara
The Maasai Mara is a magical place; proclaimed one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. The National Reserve covers some 1,510 km2 in the south-west of the country. During the Great Wildebeest Migration from July to October there are more animals per square mile here than one can begin to imagine. The promise of rain and fresh grass brings more than 1.3 million Wildebeest together into a single massive herd and leads them up from the Serengeti.
Colour bursting in the new day
Early the next day, the morning safari begins with an infusion of colour from the rising sun across the Mara plains; a warm blush, a bloom of lilac, a silver-ochre…. An artistic challenge! We head back to the plane at noon, passing herds of elephant in the grass. Sad to be leaving but inspired and refreshed. Our 'time machine' carries us back to Nairobi, ever ready to take us on yet another Kenyan adventure...