I was fortunate enough to be brought up on a farm in Subukia up the Rift Valley in Kenya. An idyllic childhood in so many ways. Big views, big sky, huge dimensions, extremes of weathers but happy memories of life and friends both human and wild. It is easy to idealise one’s childhood, but my early life in Kenya has been so influential in how I have lived my life thereafter. It gave me a passion for wildlife, wild spaces, freedom, three dimensions, flight, exploration, people and a deep desire to do my bit to help preserve this magical but delicate part of the world as well as the planet as a whole.
In modern terms Kenya is a young country. From the days of colonisation, through independence, mechanisation, industrial developments, large and technical scales of farming and exportation, discovery of minerals... all that is new and young. Along with this youth come issues, teething problems. Corruption grows like a cancer, there is huge poverty amongst the ever expanding population. There is starvation, health care issues, poaching, terrorism, all this mixed with natural extremes such as drought... Aspects of Africa that are so evident far too often but evident also is the hope and magic that has always been Kenya. There are thankfully many remarkable and selfless people doing amazing works and in all the spheres of life making the country functional and giving it the magic spell.
Over the past years I have crossed the world investigating wild places and sculpting as I go. I have travelled to: India, the Arctic, the South Atlantic, The Americas, Himalayas and recently through the Holy Land and specifically Jerusalem, creating a major work for The Order of St John, described at the end of this catalogue. In February this year I travelled to the depths of the Taiga forest in Siberia to work with the Amur Tiger which will be the subject of a future exhibition... ‘The Story in the Snow’. Even with this breadth of experience, Africa and in particular Kenya keeps drawing me back and back... it has a spell that is unavoidable, once it, its people and its wild environment are in your blood it is there to stay. The Kenyan bush is so compelling and its wildlife deeply inspiring as are its
people, geography, geology and ancient history. If I had a magic lamp I would ask the genie within to grant me the following: I would like to take giant bounds back through African history. First bound back 50 years to my childhood farm in Subukia, then 100 years back again to when Kenya was in the nappies of its recent history. I then want to go back 200 years, 400 years, doubling each bound... in 17 bounds I might have the chance of meeting ‘Lucy’ Australopithecus afarensis who lived some 3.2 million years ago and whose remains were discovered in 1974. One thing that I would for sure notice however is that the vast majority of change would have happened within my first two bounds, before that point the continent was truly wild. I would also and very firmly ask my genie that we could at the very least conserve what remains of this wild and magnificent continent and ideally let it recover towards its former glory.
With this exhibition I want to support wildlife conservation through the Big Life Foundation www.biglife.org and through the Great Plains Foundation www.greatplainsfoundation.com and also help the people of Kenya through the Harry Dyer Burn Center, (see eskenazihealthfoundation.org). Fire, in what can be a dry and hot country with people daily depending on it for cooking or warmth at night, is a major hazard. Harry’s dramatic survival after his perilous flying accident highlights the urgency and need in the country.