I was born 2nd November in the coastal city of Durban South Africa.I did my first drawing of an elephant at the age of three. As it was executed in the sand on a farm there is no trace of it left.The...
Silent Portraits a series based on the animal collection in the Hancock Museum
The characterisation of animals should ideally go beyond morphology,
It should be as penetrating as human biography or portraiture,
as liberal as the writing or painting of human history.
(Goldsmith, 1774, cited in Donald,2007, p.32)
The representation of animals as subject in the genre of portraiture is a contested zone. In his book Portraiture, Richard Brilliant excludes animals from his discussions on this genre as he regards animals as ‘irrelevant to the core of the genre that involves the representation of the structuring of human relationships’ (Brilliant 1991:9). Conversely, Cynthia Freeland in her book Portraits and Persons devotes a chapter to the possible inclusion of animals as subjects in portraits. In these paintings I wish to explore the complex cultural historical discourses surrounding the question of the animal either as part of the human world or as commodity within the structure of human relations. .
The confluence of the natural historian, the animal as individual and Dead Animal Portraiture serve as inspiration for these works. Natural historians are interested in phenomena and changes in understandings of the natural world. With increasing knowledge of the natural world, it has become apparent that one cannot generalise, but needs to differentiate not only between species, but individuals amongst them.
In Bewick’s Wombat I wish to explore the historical representation of the first marsupial to have arrived in the West and which was illustrated by Bewick before its arrival from Australia and by his son John Bewick after its arrival and consequent transformation from skin to taxidermied specimen. It is of interest as it manifests the changing perceptions of exotic animals brought to Europe and the conflation of guess work, doubtful sources and limited understanding of species.
July 31, 2011
September 25, 2011
animal, painting, portrait, Bewick, Natural history