A companion work to 'Follow Me', my aim is to characterise a very different personality and temperament.
I find it challenging to make portraits of children.....primarily because it's hard for them to sit still, and then trying to keep them animated and interested is demanding for one who is used to working in solitude. Photographs are useful, but the result and outcome are very different to when working 'a la prima'. I am not implying a hierarchical ideal here, as portraiture is obviously well served by all kinds of media and methodologies.
There is also a fine edge between making saccharine images of the young and representations of children that look like old men. Having said that, I do love the pink, plump, syrupy cherubs that hover in Renaissance Nativity scenes...to this day, I still yearn for the gorgeous small, glittery religious images (pre dating Ninja Turtle stickers) that as children, we collected at Catholic Convents.
The incongruous scale of 'Follow Me' and 'Cuddle' attempts to reconcile the large with the small which we normally associate with youth and innocence.
Final work. I hope it suggests speed, mystery and beauty of the leopard in nature.
It has been sobering to reconsider the issues surrounding conservation and the conflict between our wildlife and human intervention. I respect and am grateful to those who work towards maintaining and protecting the species and biodiversity in Southern Africa.
Thinking about the leopard in my studio in London, the contrasts and contradictions between the urbane and the natural habitat of this carnivore became more evident.
In the West, it seems that this fantastic creature has been co opted by the heady glitz and glamour of the fashion world and commodified into a reality very different from it’s own.
Initially, I thought I should elaborate and comment on this idea by stylising and repeating the shape to echo the work of Gautier, Dolce, Muccia and friends……
However, somewhere in my heart, the African Bush beckoned.
Working on the idea of ‘marking’….whether on the animal itself or actual prints left in the sand, I marvelled at the splendour and variety of creation. I remembered times spent watching secretive leopards in their natural habitat. I realised that no stylisation, simplification or artfulness was appropriate for a work celebrating the splendour of such a magnificent cat.
A few weeks ago, I was invited by Rachel Smith to make an artwork in support of The Cape Leopard Trust.
The jewellery designer, Megan Carr (also involved with rhino conservation) very kindly delivered a cutout leopard shape to me in London.
My brief was to transform this element at will, and create a work to be auctioned on 20th August at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards, in Franschoek, Cape.
In keeping with my practice, I incorporated this machine-made, flat wooden shape into a painting. The completed work was couriered yesterday to Dame Jane Goodall in Windsor. Bon voyage to all….safe travels, Little Leopard.
Semantics and practical matters aside, my challenge as an artist with this project was multifold.
Many considerations and ideas forced many about turns before Spirit and Nature finally took over.