A dream vacation in Namibia with co-exhibiting artist and friend Marlene Etherington in October 2018 was the inspiration for this exhibition. A daunting task was to select the favorite moments from thousands of iPhone photos, allowing me to relive the incredible days of the trip. The photographs were so telling that I decided the best way to paint this trip was to work with the photos, altering them digitally to amplify the colours and textures, transferring them to board or canvas. Incomplete transfers were overlaid with additional photo transfers, leading to more abstract representations. Transfers to Sekishu paper before applying to the board or canvas gave images in the right orientation as opposed to direct photo transfers which yielded mirror images. Collages were also produced, incorporating fragments of photograph,s pre-painted Sekishu papers and even Namibia sand.
Our trip first led us from Windhoek, the capital, to the Etosha National Park, a saline desert consisting of grassland, woodland and savannah and rich in wildlife, despite little water in the dry season. A series of images depicting elephants, giraffes, zebras and rhinoceros in their natural habitat can only give an aperçu of these large animals meandering the arid landscape. Waterholes provided the best viewpoints especially in early morning. A well-appointed lodge near the Park allowed us to view mostly elands, kudus, springboks and oryx, at sunset and throughout dinner on the patio. Truly magical moments!
Our voyage continued to Damaraland, a vast, untamed and ruggedly beautiful region with ancient river terraces, highly colourful and unusual rock formations, and a Petrified Forest with 260 million years old logs. Damaraland is home to the Damara people and to the Twyfelfontein archeological site with more than 2,500 Bushman engravings, describing wildlife and abstract motifs on slabs of red sandstone. These exceptional petroglyphs suggest an occupation of the site over a period of 7,000 years and were a great source of inspiration. The surrounding area of the Twyfelfontein Lodge is geologically superb and one can walk amongst incredible granite outcrops set ablaze by the setting sunset. The Organ Pipes, a series of coloured dolerite pillars exposed by erosion, also offered photo opportunities. The ephemeral Aba Huab riverbed in which we drove allowed us to discover the elusive desert adapted elephants that can survive the super arid and almost waterless environment.
Driving by the Brandberg Mountain, the highest peak in Namibia at 2573 meters, and through vast and dry areas, we arrived at the Skeletal Coast and Swakopmund, a small German resort, nestled between desert and ocean and home to the precious stone museum. A marine tour from Walvis Bay Harbour brought us to Pelican Point with its colony of Cape Fur seals. And then a 4x4 drive through the dunes to the Atlantic Ocean took us first around and above magnificently pink saltpans where flamingos were observed in their majestic poses. After many ups and downs in the dunes, we arrived at the sea, and the contrast between the shifting ochre dunes and the trashing blue waves was truly breathtaking.
The next part of the trip took us inland through the Gaub and Kuiseb Passes to the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei, where expansive sand and gravel plains alternate with stretches of grass savannah and majestic mountain ranges with dune belts of deep red colour. Early one morning, we were en route for Big Daddy, the highest dune in the Sossusvlei area, with its 325 meters of shifting red sand. We succeeded a partial ascent, as the heat was truly exhausting but the incredible views well worth the effort.
Namibia is breathtaking and a very diversified country, geographically and ethnically. Its population is only 3.5 million and this allows for the spaciousness of the land and so many peaceful as well as exhilarating moments for the travellers.
Please share these Namibia Moments and be enticed to visit this magnificent land!
One of Toronto's original artist-run galleries. Since 1996.