Skulls & Flowers

Life and Death in the Garden of Eden
By Lin Barrie

As an artist and as a naturalist, skulls and bones have always fascinated me; we start dying from the minute we are created, a natural process not to be feared but embraced, truly the stuff of LIFE.

Living with my life partner Clive Stockil in the lowveld wilderness of Zimbabwe, I collect skulls, stones and bones around our house in the Save Valley Conservancy and they sit amongst the indigenous plants that I nurture in my bush garden.

Crossandras, Aloes and Sabi Stars are waterwise, hardy and indigenous to our lowveld. They bloom profusely and give me great joy. I am
fascinated by the shapes and stories that lie in skulls and bones, and so I constantly sketch and paint combinations of bones, skulls and flowers. Acrylics are my preferred medium when working in the field, due to their fast drying time.

How can I not be inspired by my Garden of Eden, the cycles of life; flowers, animals, insects, earth, birth and decay, rainfall and fire? Amongst all my skull collection I have a special skull, one of the original wild dog alpha females that I watched at her den with five-week old pups, who died when a lion bit through her spine. The rest of the pack rallied and fed the eight pups, successfully rearing the tiny mites to adulthood.

There is often a deeply sad side to my paintings as well, because over the years I have collected precious skulls from animals lost to snares and poaching. In particular, is a rhino skull, pelvis and bones from a male black rhino who was shot by poachers, ran away and died below our bush house a few years ago…

How do we maintain a balance in the natural world around us, how do we honour the natural cycles of birth and death? How do we address the issues that lead to the illegal trade and harvesting of our wildlife and plants? All questions to ponder.

“Skulls, Skins and Skeletons in my Garden” …Garden of Eden or Armageddon?

I write blogs about subjects close to my heart, Conservation, Culture, Art and you can find my writings at my blog site,
Lin’s blog, wineandwildogs:
and you can find images of some of my finished artworks;
Lin Barrie Art Page:

Images provided by Lin Barrie

Ndeipi Magazine, Issue 113

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