Monthly Archives: October 2016

Close Encounters Of The Furry Kind

WILDFOOT has partnered with the renowned wildlife artist Kerry Newell, who has travelled the globe capturing breathtaking images of wildlife, from tigers and wolves to whales and hummingbirds, before bringing them to life on the canvas.

She has also worked with another one of our partners, the Namibia-based AfriCat Foundation, the leading conservation organisation striving to protect the cheetahs and other big cats of Africa.

Kerry is also happy to paint commission pieces – one of her big-name clients has been Chris Packham, the well-known TV nature presenter.

Kerry writes a regular blog about her adventures meeting these animals and her creative process, which we are proud to share with you.

WILDFOOT provides a wide variety of itineraries to Namibia, which includes the majestic cheetahs of AfriCat. Click through to look at just one of the many itineraries that we have available, or call us to talk to one of our friendly staff team.

 

First and foremost may I take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Simon and John at Wildfoot for inviting me to become part of their online team, requesting the contribution of a monthly blog highlighting my ‘close encounters of the furry kind’, or to be more precise my challenges, happy accidents, thoughts and methodology that form the framework of my life as a professional wildlife artist.

Okay here goes –

Working from home as I do I’m always in a battle of ‘time-allocation awareness’ or to put it more bluntly ‘what to do next, when and where to do it and where on earth can I buy 72 hour days from…’. Yep juggling time is a daily task that we’re all aware of so I start my day with a caffeine-based breakfast and today was no exception.

blog-pic-1On Saturday (1st Oct) I was invited to be part of a ‘Culture & Community’ day at our local library here in Widnes, Cheshire. This event was a sure way in which I could exhibit and demonstrate to the general public, whilst publicising my work and networking at the same time (multi-tasking at it’s best). Well as the saying goes ‘best laid plans go to waste’, and although those that know me well would say they’re not surprised, the day resulted in my doing a lot more talking than demonstrating for visitors seemed more interested in seeing my completed paintings and hearing the stories behind the creation of each of them than in the creative process itself. Hence my Sumatran Tiger will have to wait his turn before finding himself on my studio easel … for the next few days anyway, but once begun I’ll be sure to post ‘work in progress’ images so that you can follow the creation of this painting in particular from start to finish.

With my most recent commissioned painting being completed just last Friday and collected on the same day by a very grateful very satisfied client, this week will see the start of my next private commission. A portrait of a much loved Welsh Collie. This booking was secured a couple of weeks ago and followed in quick succession by an array of 83 images from which my job was to initially compose an eye-catching composition whilst still maintaining the individual identity of the subject involved. This composition agreed on with the client I’m now looking forward to getting this one onto my easel this coming Thursday/Friday. As with the above Sumatran Tiger I’ll be sure to post images of this ‘work in progress’ as it evolves for those of you who may be interested in seeing the process from start to finish.

Now I’m not joking when requiring days with more than the allotted 24hrs as time really does seem to fly when your having fun so much so that ‘quality studio time’ feels more like time travel some days … And deliberately not having a clock in my studio becomes somewhat meaningless when you have the radio on as announcers seem to feel compelled to give you the time of day every 10 – 15 minutes. So with this in mind a couple of hours this morning spent on my wolves went by in the blink of an eye. For the next few weeks this painting will most certainly be worked alongside my latest commission for the first limited edition print from this painting has already been reserved and paid for … nothing like a little pressure to kick start you in the mornings.

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I do have a few other paintings waiting in the wings so to speak, some that are nearly finished whilst others are initial sketches some with base coats applied. All of these will be worked in turn to completion but always with private commissions coming first … this can slow things down somewhat but I only have one pair of hands and the 72hr days still evade me.

So hoping that you now have a rough idea of who I am and an inkling of what I do I’ll ask you to time travel forward to the beginning of next week, Monday 10th October to be exact, to tie up and end today’s blog post:

For Monday 10th October is set to be an exciting day for me a I meet for a second time with the director and managers of Knowsley Safari Park after having been invited in to create from scratch a complete programme of art-based events there. This will be a huge undertaking for myself but one that I truly look forward to. Knowing that I hold the reigns for this project is a true privilege, and this my friends is an adventure that you can share with me right from the beginning …

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

Looking forward to chatting with you all again soon.

Be blessed Kerry xXx

Indian Adventure 9

This year, WILDFOOT’s Simon took part in an Indian adventure. He documented his journey throughout for you to read on the WILDFOOT blog. In his latest update, Simon spends the day at the Keoladeo Ghana National Park.

Part 9

After spending the night in Agra to see the Taj and the Red Fort, we travel by road to Bharatpur, where I took the train to Ranthambore. We stop at the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. The Park attracts a huge amount of UK and worldwide birders every year, so I am keen to get inside and explore for myself.

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After a short journey to the National Park, we meet our birding guides, who spoke very good English on the whole. If you are a keen birder, this activity is a must – even more so if you have two or three days to spare. The park is open throughout the year, including during the monsoon season, while the peak breeding period is between August and October.

I was particularly interested in finding out more about the Siberian crane, but unfortunately, the last sighting of this species in India was in the winter of 2002. The migratory paths for this species included Afghanistan, where it is thought that these birds will have been hunted. As well as that, Keoladeo Park has experienced terrible droughts in the recent years, and it is thought that this was another factor as to why the birds chose not to return.

On a more positive note, you will find around 350 species of bird at Keoladeo and if you are a keen birder, the WILDFOOT team recommends that you enjoy at least a two-night stay here to take in everything on offer. There are many routes within the park, including boat trips around the shallow lake that takes up over a third of the 27 square kilometres of the park.

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The park is open from 6am to 6pm, and it is very easy to hire a good guide at the entrance of the park. Of course, on my journey, a guided tour was organised by WILDFOOT for my convenience, which made the outing all the more enjoyable.

In the next instalment of Simon’s travels, he will spend a night in a hotel close to Keoladeo Ghana National Park, and then begin his journey to Ranthambore by train. To find out more about taking part in your own Indian adventure, get in touch with the WILDFOOT team today.

Indian Adventure 8

Simon from WILDFOOT spent his summer enjoying a trip across India. He recorded his travels to give you an understanding of Indian culture, and we are serialising his adventure in a series of blog posts on the WILDFOOT blog. Today, Simon spends his night in Jaipur and learns more about the fascinating Bishnoi religious tribe.

Part 8

As part of my Indian big cats adventure, I spend the night in Jaipur and enjoy an eventful evening at Manoj’s family home. I experience a delicious authentic Indian evening meal with all of the family around the table.

Harsh sits with me and discusses the wildlife that we have been lucky enough to observe so far.  I’ve already read a few pages of the copy that Harsh has written about a religious tribe whose focus is on total conservation. What surprises me about this sect, called Bishnoi, is that they were founded in 1486 and therefore formed the earliest conservation movement ever.

The sect is still prevalent in certain areas of India today, and abides by 29 life rules such as ‘be kind to all living beings’, ‘green trees not to be felled’, ‘no meat to be consumed’ and ‘clean firewood before you burn it so you don’t kill insects’.

This Hindi tribe have given their lives to protect green trees and made several sacrifices throughout the centuries, including in 1604 when two ladies chopped off their heads to protest against the felling of Khejri trees. It’s still remembered to this day by the Bishnoi and is a main inspiration of the movement.

Similar brave sacrifices have since followed, including in 1730 when a major protest against the felling of trees to build a fort in Rajasthan saw men, women and children hug trees as axes fell. One can only imagine the blood spilled by brave souls from over 84 surrounding Bishnoi villages. By that time, 363 Bishnoi lives were spent.

Harsh follows some of the sect’s 29 rules and holds dear to his heart similar conservational principles to the Bishnoi. Harsh has undertaken great research on the movement and is now working on a book centred on the religious principles of the Bishnoi people. Watch this space!

In Simon’s next installment, he travels to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. To find out more about taking part in your own Indian wildlife holiday, don’t hesitate to contact WILDFOOT’s experts today.

Indian Adventure 7

This year, Simon from WILDFOOT went on an Indian adventure and documented his journey for you to read on the WILDFOOT blog. In this update, Simon makes a journey to Jaipur by train.

Part 7

I travel to Jodhpur station at 5:30am for my 6:10 am trip to Jaipur by early morning train. Built in the 1900s, Jodhpur was one of the most important railway inclusions for the British rulers in Victorian India. The Indian railway system was started in 1857, and the first line was Bombay to Rajkot in southern Gujarat, so it is great to be here and to take in some of the history.

We have individual seats booked in an air-conditioned carriage, but take a peek at the unreserved non-air conditioned carriage. We imagine sitting in the carriage in the midday heat of 43 degrees today. During the height of the summer, the temperature is likely to top 50 degrees, so we are glad we opted for an air conditioned carriage to make our journey!

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Comparing my journey to UK trains, I am surprised to note that train doors are generally left open and passengers are free to lean out of the door regardless of speed. Manoj, my travelling companion, reminds me that there are no full stops in India, referencing the title of a book by author Mark Tully, who has written prolifically about India. In other words, India is a never-ending surprise and around every corner, there are scenes and experiences delivered as if on cue!

I’ve not scratched the surface in my comments as to the unique Indian culture surrounding you everywhere you turn, but my wildlife tour of North West India has kept me highly entertained and educated so far.

As we take our seats on the train, we see that two ladies are eating food in front of us. They insist that we share with them, so we enjoy authentic Indian cuisine on our journey to Jaipur. Shiva Rathi is an industrial and engineering student from Jodhpur, travelling with her professor and mother Rashmi Rathi. The journey demonstrates the exceptional kindness of the Indian people, especially on Indian trains. We decide to offer them a cup of chai when the chai wallah comes through the carriage by way of thanks.

In Simon’s next installment, he will spend a night in Jaipur and learn more about the Bishnoi religious tribe. If you are interested in finding out more about your own possibilities for an Indian wildlife adventure, get in touch with the WILDFOOT team today.

Indian Adventure 6

Earlier this year, Simon from WILDFOOT enjoyed an adventure across India. He recorded updates throughout his journey for you to read on the WILDFOOT blog. In this update, Simon travels from Bera to Jodhpur and spots some bar-headed geese.

Part 6

Today, I travel from Bera to Jodhpur by road. We already know that northwest India offers rich and diverse birding and wildlife, and we stop en route to see some bar-headed geese, demoiselle crane and blackbuck, which are an endemic breed only found in certain parts of Rajasthan.

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The demoiselle cranes are smaller than the common crane, with a height of 90cm compared to a huge 120cm with the other species. Demoiselles are migratory visitors to India and enjoy the north-west region particularly for the arid and stony habitats. We found a group of around 500 on a manmade wetland area 40 minutes outside Jodhpur, which made for great photographs.

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The blackbucks are very timid creatures but manage to creep to around 100 metres of us before they become jittery. There are around 12 in total, including four males.

I know little about this endemic species, but tomorrow night I’m lucky enough to be visiting Mr Harsh Vardhan. He had a tremendous influence on the Indian birding and wildlife conservation movement in the 1970s, and his advice to the government had a major influence on the creation of the original National Parks, including Ranthambore.

Harsh is positively known in conservation circles and his name has come up everywhere we have travelled up to this point. I am looking forward to meeting him, especially as he is the father of my travelling companion and WILDFOOT’s wildlife specialist partner in India, Manoj Vardhan.

In the next instalment of Simon’s adventure, he travels from Jodhpur to Jaipur by train. If you would like to find out more about starting your own Indian wildlife adventure, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the WILDFOOT team today.