Friday, September 11, 2015


Our visit back to South Africa was to be a family event and while I was not looking forward to the more than 15 hour flight, it passed quicker than I had hoped. We arrived in Johannesburg just as the sun was setting over the African landscape. Surprisingly it felt like coming home as I haven't set foot in Africa for over 20 years! As they say, "Africa gets into your blood", and for me that certainly is true. We were to be staying with my brother in his large and quite wonderful home overlooking a lake, so early the next morning I woke before dawn and walked downstairs to the second floor balcony so that I could watch the sun come up.

 The winter sky was almost clear of cloud so this, the first African dawn for a long time, was to be a very special one. In the photos above, the sun has yet to rise over the horizon but the colours were amazing!. The first photo shows where Hadeda and Sacred Ibis were roosting in the large Gum trees just to the right of the house along with about 35 Helmeted Guineafowl. It was wonderful watching them leave the roost and take off in different directions for the day - spectacular against the colours of the dawn. If you look closely on the right you can see a few Hadeda Ibis in flight - their loud calls adding to the mood. This day was to be the start of a very special trip back the the country I once called home.

Later driving around I noticed that not much had changed except that most of the roads were in better condition, although there were certainly more people than I remembered. The area around Johannesburg is mostly grassland with the occasional rocky outcrop (kopie) and one of the things that I had always found interesting was coming across small stands of trees - sometimes appearing in the middle of nowhere - which added a distinct character to the landscape. Usually these plantings were of Eucalyptus trees and the sight of them were something that had always epitomized South Africa for me. So it was this feeling that prompted me to paint the small canvas shown above. I had the idea to set the scene in the early morning with some cloud cover as added atmosphere and tried to capture something of the essence of South Africa in this study. With the dried grasses and lonesome trees, I felt very satisfied upon completing it. 'Roadside Trees' is in oil, size 8" x 10" (20cm x 26cm) .


John Holmes said...

If I had a brother in South Africa, he'd be getting A LOT of visits from me !

Jeremy Pearse said...

Actually, he may not realize it but he is about to get a lot more visits from us - we had an amazing time and I'm eager to add more birds to my list.