African girl 非洲女孩
13cms (W) x 18cms (H)
Oil on Panel
I don't have a high definition photo of this painting yet. It's something I painted after spending a 2 week trip in a research centre in Wamba, Samburu, Kenya. My employer (Jaguar Land Rover) at the time had a partnership with a conservational research organisation called 'Earthwatch' (There's a cool video on Youtube - i'm one of the many British men with no hair in the film)
We had gone to support work to help preserve an endangered species of Zebra, the Grevy's Zebra (nope, neither had I). It was an amazing trip and in between the research activities we got to visit local schools, towns and tribes. I was only there 2 weeks but it had such a powerful impact on me, just to bring into such stark contrast how tough life could be for people. I decided to paint this girl who we'd seen wearing the traditional local dress. Most people had to endure significant threats and discomfort (kids at the local girl's school would have to get up at 4am every day to do the 4 hour round trip walk to get water, and most students would never see graduation because they'd be married off between the ages of 12-15 and prevented from attending school) but this girl also had some form of disability. Being a fat pasty foreigner, I probably wouldn't have lasted a month in that environment without being turned into fat pasty Hyena snack under the patty-forming foot of a rampaging elephant, so I was amazed at how she'd survived in such an uncompromising environment. Getting her character across was a little challenging as iId never really painted these skin tones before; hers was very dark, with some touches of blues, pinks and greys; and I also wanted to contrast it with the super-colourful beads that she wore, but without losing her facial expressions.
I was really pleased with this and it's on permanent loan to my dad.