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ARTIST: Paul Augustinus
TITLE: Okavango Island
SIZE: 117cm x 181cm
Oil on Canvas

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Paul Augustinus helps pack a dugout with art materials and camping gear for a journey through the Jau area of the Okavango in Botswana
'I had expected that doing these field paintings would be the hard part of the journey.'

'My most memorable mekoro safari was to Lechwe Haven in the Jau flats area of the upper Okavango delta in Botswana. My wife and I had picked up our mekoros (the Tswana name for a dugout canoe) and San polers at Tchau for this particular journey which would take us West of Chief’s Island. We set off for a couple of weeks of wilderness camping in the part of the Okavango which is permanently flooded. Here there were many thousands of Phoenix and date palm covered islands, varying in size from a few metres wide to several kilometres in length. On this particular trip I had decided to bring along with me some small stretched canvases and enough art materials to do a few paintings in the field. There are practical reasons for doing field paintings: one does get a very good colour sense of the landscape and the various moods of the day. But mostly because I wanted to emulate my heros of old - the explorer artists Baines and Kunhert and to discover the difficulties they had encountered painting in the wilds of Africa. I had expected that doing these field paintings would be the hard part of the journey. Actually it wasn’t - even though the resulting paintings looked as though they had been through a war. They picked up a few tears. Insects and bits of grass were embedded in the paint and the paint smeared in transit and so on! No, the main difficulty on this particular trip was finding islands to camp on which didn’t have lions! Every island we picked seemed to have its own lion pride and for fourteen nights in a row our sleep was disturbed by the deafening grunts of lions calling from nearby clearings. What a great problem to have!'

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A Paul Augustinus painting of two lions in a palm tree fringed clearing on an Okavango island in Botswana