Sunday, August 1, 2010

Art Directors and Animals Made of Meat

A little while ago the head teacher of the local school gave me back the, by now, very tatty ream of A4 that I had given him to distribute for an art competition to provide material for a mural for the newly built sponsored  classroom.   

Judging art/oxymoron?  I know, judges bring their own briefcases of cultural, emotional baggage and so on. However. I opted out by making lots of winners  for a collaborative wall thing.

There are no actual art lessons here although its on the syllabus, and like lots of places art is the old joke topic that doesnt have that earn-a-living ring to it. Its a bit rural  and most people are on candle power, few solar. Any TV is strictly local.

Anyway they had no subject restrictions – anything.

Game viewing vehicles are a hot favourite and many, many boys know how to draw them. Hardly surprising, as they trundle past the classroom window once a day back and forth from the airport fetching tourists.

Certain boys collaborate and know the exact formula of how to draw them. Across the board they are usually drawn from a three quarters view.

Does the brain turn into a gobbling monster that noshes all our imagination at a certain age (12-ish) when we suddenly assume reality to be what we think it is? Anal  representations of the world with a 4H pencil at about puberty replace wildly  unconscious drawing gestures of the very young. Not knocking it – they are sometimes charming but more often trying far too hard to be 'real' or 'art'.


We have to go through delusions of reality I guess, but for me there was no contest...Mirrim Zulu six years old...check out these awesome if slightly mad animals... 

I liked hers the best which made a number of people including some teachers look at me as if I was a drooling, emaciated dwarf with rotting stumps for legs.  An artist friend, defending my choice said, “we artists spend twenty years trying to relearn how to draw like that”.  

Where did she see these things? Cant I get to see them too? The kids get taken into the Park occasionally. Which one did SHE go to? 

Mirrim Zulu and some others provided the creative design and the big dudes took over from there as Art Directors. They gridded up her and other's drawings to enlarge them onto the wall. 

Technical. Practical. The Art Directors had it all sussed. Sending smaller couriers to pass up refreshed pots of paint mixed by even smaller children labour, they ruled, bossing everyone around from an elevated perch with crowds of admirers below.

So I failed to quizz our lowly creator about her animals because she took one look at those huge boys and gapped it. Fast. 

She was small and intimidated by the number of male teenage testosteroned immortals who swarmed over the scaffolding and took over the wall painting because girls obviously cant climb scaffolds. 

Stoopid. Girls aren't even immortal.

Here are hers. Giraffe and lion or Jurassic Park?

Nice hey? Or am romanticizing again? But I like how they've all got FACES. Even the elephant. 

This from someone whose  language fails to differentiate between the word “animal” and “meat”. No faces there, ha. Meat face. Meat head.

What are these? More Jurassic animals? They have got to be prey with those sheep faces.

I think the bottom one is a hippo - her friend told me.

Hippo Face.

This youngster knows perfectly well  that hippos have Very Big Teeth. True.

The horny centaur is in fact another young artist's  elephant.

This girl's brother is obviously pissed off at the housework having to chop wood –  glaring at the girls. 

Perhaps that's his sister under the wheel.

SOME have a romantic vision - how are those stunningly essential line drawings of lioness and warthog? 

Others decide to allocate their artwork into the social consciousness bracket. 

Actually among the older boys there seems to be quite a bit of lion envy for their free access to meat. All that protein. This is probably the first generation of kids growing up in subsistence grain farming on the edge of this national park where hunting is really, REALLY forbidden and will be enforced by authorities that weren't in evidence before. 

So most of the village muzzle loading guns belonging to fathers and grandfathers lie idle (sometimes) because hunting is no longer allowed by  wildlife government decree. 


Well, catapaults, gangs of dogs and boys, reed woven giant rat traps dont really count do they? Easy to avoid the scouts on this. Millet grain nshima ALL the time can get rather carbo heavy. There are no butchers in the area because tsetse fly prevent the keeping of domestic livestock.

So there was quite a bit of focus from some of the artists on various meat cuts. Steak-house fare beyond the wildest dreams.

The vultures have a complete restaurant to themselves.

This chunk of carefully butchered steak belongs to the lion. 

Poachers manage to get tusks and even leave the meat (maybe later, I seem to be busy right now).

Two friends collaborated on this poaching scene. The carriers have bags full of horns/tusks etc. including dinner on the pole I guess. They are smiling with confidence but...

Dont realise what's round the next corner

Ha ha. 

None of the artwork is mine but the pics are.


  1. fabulous! so much talent there! i am with you on the winners choice - but love the entire spectrum of works, and the social issues that guide them. that amoeboid beef steak with the lion walking away - ha; a wonderful insight into their worlds eye view - where will it take us i wonder? xxx

  2. I`m so glad you value these kids and their fantastic art. How they tell stories and give the animals faces! Did you show or tell them you shared their pictures with the world outside? You are a great teacher, Pam, just by appreciating! Love from here!

  3. Val - thanks - it does all give a great insight into their world view through pics - there were some fab ones of what they think goes on in a walking safari etc.

    Geli - thanks - no I havent told them yet and wondered about it and if it was ok, although the 2 boys who did the poaching scene saw it when they came to visit me. Yes it is fab art hey? Love it. Thank you for your kind words

  4. show us the walking safari ones ----- pleeeeeease! also love the sister under the bicycle wheel xx infact all...

  5. what an amazing window into the hearts and minds of these kids. love all the images esp the boy glaring at his sister and then plotting a cycle sneak attack --- and the safari vehicles.. boys everywhere seem to love to draw heavy machinery!

    thanks for sharing and such a loving tribute.

    p.s. I'd enjoy seeing their impression of a walking safari as well

  6. Thank you Val and Janelle and Amanda - I love getting your comments

  7. This was so great Pam, children's art is so special. I agree with your choice and have some of those same drawings of my own from my kids younger days. But i love them all. A really interesting post.

    On another note,i saw a jar of honey at our small import market. It is from Zambia, the label said Pure Raw Zambezi - 100% organic forest honey. Is this yours?

  8. Ha, funny post! Love all the choice cuts of meat

    Hello. Are you home or on safari?

  9. Lori Ann - Yes arent they just great. Thanks very much. No, that particular honey is not mine - we dont export because have to radiate first.

    Miranda - thanks - yes the meat is so carefully butchered. By who? The lion? Just back from safari and in Lusaka

  10. what super artwork! I loved the squat giraffe - it caught my eye before you picked it out further down the post.
    The lion face has very good attention to detail.
    I don't know about art but I love some of their work

  11. Fantastic artwork - they could make a fab children's book! Lx

  12. I'm back! I love Mirrum's 'herd'.

    Today brings more news of rhino poaching in SA - over 200 this year alone now and I think the ellie poaching pic is worthy of a worldwide poster - especially relevant is the hunter's clothing - very military = organised. Clearly these kids have seen...