Saturday, 20 September 2008
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead;
Walk beside me, and just be my friend”
One of the greatest things about conversations with girl friends is the eclectic range of subject matter that may be discussed. With a good glass of merlot and a bowl of nibbles, girls will talk about anything from desserts to Dadaism; from pot plants to Plato; from babies to Beethoven; from eggplants to Eco systems…….and everything between! Some of the very best ‘deep and meaningfuls’ I’ve ever had, have been with a group of my girl friends.
Monday, 15 September 2008
At Lake Victoria’s north-western corner, in Uganda, are the 84 forested islands of the Ssese archipelago. The islands float like green jewels in this vast stretch of water which is constantly replenished by melting snow from the craggy peaks of The Mountains of The Moon. Not every island is inhabited so a day’s sailing will bring you to your very own deserted island paradise where the rainforests are alive with birds, vibrant butterflies, brightly coloured frogs, cheeky Colobus monkeys and the unique Sitatunga antelope. If you’re lucky, you may well see a family of chimps high up in the forest canopy chatting noisily to one another.
On the inhabited islands, the small fishing villages along the shores signify the importance of the lake for food. With the huge Nile Perch, the tasty Tilapia and the tiny Omena being the main catches, the lake waters are also filled with delicious little freshwater crayfish and soft shell crabs. For a dollar or two, you can buy the fish just as they are landed and have yourself a banquet!
Friday, 12 September 2008
As George Schaller famously stated "No one who looks into a gorilla's eyes – intelligent, gentle, vulnerable – can remain unchanged, for the gap between ape and human vanishes, we know that the gorilla still lives within us."
I was one of a group of international artists who contributed some of my work to help raise funds for the International Gorilla Conservation Program http://www.awf.org/section/wildlife/gorillas. It is a cause very, very close to my heart because I was lucky enough to have encountered these wonderful animals on the Ugandan side of the Virunga Mountain Range where the gorillas habituate the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Located at the crest of the mountainous backbone of Africa, at the very centre of the continent, the Virunga Mountain Range is the embodiment of western fantasies about "Darkest Africa." The Virungas are in the heart of the legendary land of King Solomon's mines, the long-sought source of the Nile, and the rumoured lair of giant crocodiles, man-eating plants, and the brothers of King Kong. And here, in this mysterious and exotic place, juxtapositioned along the boarders of the DR Congo and Rwanda, lies Bwindi. This is the place where the 320 mountain gorillas of Uganda reign supreme. As long as we care enough, that is.
But I think it’s important, too, to recognise the work of some exceptional men. The rangers who lead small groups of visitors up from the community base camps to see the mountain gorilla families are truly the unsung heroes of the Virunga range in all three countries. They are exceptionally knowledgeable, unwaveringly dedicated and, above all, so brave to tackle a job like this where the dangers that lie in wait for them are not the animals that live in the rainforests, but human beings loaded with guns and avarice.
Every single one of us, whether we’ve encountered these extraordinary creatures or not, should be honor bound to acknowledge David Attenborough’s message –
“The fate of the creatures which share our planet lies entirely at the hand of mankind - it is within our power to protect them or watch them become extinct. Let us choose the first route.”
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
For me, one of the most striking aspects of The English Patient is its cinematography. It is superb on both the endless scale of the desert and on the intimacy of the human face. It's impossible to make the Sahara look bad, yet the film goes a step further by making the passion that Laszlo feels for it palpable. Nearly as impressive are the editing and score; the former delights in the fades between the past and present which suggest contacts across time, while the latter soars and howls with vigour, the perfect accompaniment to the pain that lives in the hearts of every major character.
The story, based on Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel, is told elliptically, through the histories of four characters who find themselves in a ruined monastery in Italy at the end of World War II. Slowly they reveal themselves and, in the process, the true identity of the English patient - the unknown survivor of a plane shot down over the Sahara who lies dying in the monastery - is made clear. Passion fires these stories, whether it is the raw passion between lovers, or the compulsive passion which drives men to explore remote and inhospitable regions, or to pursue across time and countries those they think have wronged them.
Friday, 5 September 2008
Any tips for mental de-clutter? Post 'em here.