Thursday, September 4, 2014

I am looking like an depressed donkey (self-portrait in a mirror)

A quick colour palette view of the one I use, I have no idea of the colour code or names, the names were written under/ on the side of the small cups but since I glues them in that old pencil case, I have no way to read them again. It is the largest palette I have ever used. I had to fill the space.
I also enjoy very much my water filled pentell brush, it changed the way I sketch and the material I carry around. But on the other way it has limited my washes and stopped me from using big water-filled brushes.
I also got a new pen, with permanent ink, but still not water proof. I am still looking for a fountain pen or nib-system with a reservoir that can accomodate china-ink, or a brand of water-proof black ink in cartridges.
Fountain pens are nowhere to be found in Zimbabwe, so that makes it trickier... I cannot rely on the expertise of art-shop owners, or try things out before I buy them.

 I got an old self-portrait I made 20 years ago, and realized that I have not done any since, so I use the time that was given to me by ZESA, the zimbabwean electricity company that is kind enough to create the needed time out from our electricity dependency, se we can focus on other things.
So, during one of their numerous power shortage, i got a mirror and indulge in looking at me for at least half an hour.  The result is bloody serious. I look like I am going to blow my brain off in the next half an hour. Luckily it is not the case.
Ptoblem with power shortage is that you cannot listen to a stand up comedy show or humourist whilst drawing, and althought I am incredibly fun and entertaining, I still find it hard to make myself laugh for 30 minutes straight.
Or maybe the main reason is that I am bloody lazy and know that if I smile or laugh I'll have much more to draw, with all the crevasses, radiators, wrinkles, teeth etc. So I try to keep it simple and botoxed to the max, looking an absolute stuck up arse, hahahaha, serves me well.
I'll need to do better that that one soon.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Zimbabwe Historic Victory against Australia

Yesterday, I have been watching History. 

Zimbabwe won their cricket game against Australia, for the first time since 1983.
Since I do not understand anything about this thrilling sport, It is a bit difficult for me to explain how they won, by how much and why it is historical. 
I know that we spend the day on the cricket ground, in Harare Sports Club, I was so drawned to the game that I sketched it most the time, there was copious amount of beer (I also won a Castle T-Shirt for drinking the beer in the classy way I am reknown for), boerie rolls, the kids had a blast sliding on cardboard, smoking sugar cigarettes, running amok with flags and meeting heaps of new friends. 
The sports club was full, people in high spirits, cheering their team, obviousely understanding what I was missing, really good moment.
So my day was great, I have been witnessing THE victory - which makes me feel a bit more zimbo, and we even managed to go back home with only one kid - we scored big on that one-, the others preferred to stay with their mates. 

For those who are looking to understand a bit better the game and weight the victory, here is the BBC article. Even if BBC is an evil media run by the devious western government of the colonial Great Britain, they got that victory right.
Article from:

Zimbabwe beat Australia in one-dayer for first time since 1983

One-day tri-series, Harare:
Zimbabwe 211-7 (48 overs) beat Australia 209 (50 overs) by three wickets

Captain Elton Chigumbura hit an unbeaten half century as Zimbabwe defeated Australia for only the second time in a one-day international.
Zimbabwe, chasing 210 for victory, won with 12 balls to spare to claim a famous three-wicket win in Harare.
It was the team's first ODI win over Australia since the 1983 World Cup, their first ever meeting.
Since then Australia, world champions four times, have won 27 meetings, with one match abandoned.
However, Zimbabwe won on the only occasion the sides have met in Twenty20 internationals - a five-wicket success at the inaugural ICC World T20 in 2007.

Zimbabwe's international record against Australia

Format Games Zim wins Aus wins Draws/ties No result

Sunday's match was the fourth game in a triangular ODI tournament that also features South Africa - and Australia won their previous match against the hosts by 198 runs.
South Africa, who play Australia in the next match on Tuesday, have won both of their games so far.
Australia had won the toss and elected to bat, but found it hard going as Zimbabwe's spinners claimed six of the nine wickets to fall.
Returning skipper Michael Clarke top scored with an unbeaten 68 but suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury and retired hurt in the 43rd over before briefly returning in the last over of the Aussie innings.
Australia announced after the game that Clarke would take no further part in the tri-series, and would return home to Sydney on Tuesday for scans and further assessment.

"Zimbabwe have been waiting 31 years for this. This is a very special day. If you could see the jubilation in the crowd with singing and dancing in the stands you would understand just how important this win was both for the players and the people of Zimbabwe.

"By playing series like this against two of the stronger teams in the world - South Africa and Australia - is the only way Zimbabwe are going to improve and get back to the way they once were."

Zimbabwe cricket commentator Dean du Plessis

The visitors had been reduced to 97-5 before Clarke and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin added 50 for the sixth wicket, and they eventually finished on 209-9.
Chigumbura, who came to the wicket with Zimbabwe struggling at 106-5, struck his unbeaten 52 off 68 balls, including four boundaries, to steer his side to victory.
He added 55 in an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 55 with Prosper Utseya, who made 30 not out.
In Zimbabwe's last ODI series, they drew 2-2 with Afghanistan.

One-day tri-series

Played Won Lost Tied/NR Net RR Points
S Africa

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Harare's ecosystem

Harare, Harare, Harare, 
I need to start a urban sketching group here, there are many people interested, it is just a matter of getting my lazy butt out and make it happen. I will do that after the house move, in Novembre, for I'll be a couple of blocks away from downtown and the most incredible buildings and places. 
We should move house on the first of Novembre, to go to Rowland Square, a stunning place in town, a real park, old kensington-inspired style for our tropics, surrounded not by oaks but by those funcky looking twisted trees, I think they are called spitting trees but am not too sure about that. They are not jacarandas, which are bordering the streets around. 
They are stunning it's all I care for. 

Speaking about trees, our good friends  Rob, Ange and their boys are about to go. They have closed their businness, sold their house and possessions and will be jumping in their car, for a ride of couple of months (or years?) around Southern and Eastern Africa, then they are aiming at getting their hand on a place southern France, to start a new life, to give their kids different opportunities. I found it really inspiring, to get rid of everything and move to a place you don't speak the language of and know next to nothing about... to start again.
I wish them all the best, they are great people. I hope that they will be able to get there with their green mamba (Zim passport), and above all that they are going to be able to cope with the french mentality, for that one is very very different from the pionneer zimbabwean one.
The palm will still be standing in their old garden. I sketched it last week, the day after their yard sale. 

And did some studies of Mosquitoes, from which I'm working on a more cartoony type for some T-shirt design.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

chilling at home

The girls' bedroom has not been over-used this summer. Naomi has generally been sleeping on the floor with Oscar, in makeshift tents. They have been colonizing the entrance hall, the living room, behind sofas, under tables, in corridors etc for the last 2 months, building tents out of a garden umbrella, some capulanas and many pillows, raiding the pantry for corn flakes, biscuits and milk in order to survive the difficult moments between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner and dinner and breakfast. That is why the bedroom was impressively clear of toys. Most of the barbies, legos and indescriptible bits of plastic, metal and wood were all spread in the hall and in Oscar's bedroom that day.
TV is the best baby sitter and the best freezing device for people. Two quick ones of the family watching some Garfield / Scooby Doo/ or some documentary with catchy title (Most dangerous encounter/ shark bite or the like).


I should probably do more house sketches, for we are going to move end of Octobre. We got our hands on an amazing place, in the middle of town, an old 1935 tin-roofed house, with a veranda all around and - most of all- in front of the only small neighborhood park of Harare, Rowlands square. The park is surrounded by great big trees, jacarandas and bolivian spitting trees (?), its 5 minutes from the centre of town, a stone trow away from two of the main roads but completely out of it at the same time, in a sort of time warp. The park is a little bit unkept, but nothing terrible. For us it is a great place: in the city, on a small plot but with a great perspective, and a sure possibility to participate and bring the community together more in the public space of the square.
Our house on the top of the hill has been filled with joy, energy and great sadness, and we are very keen to move on, for new beginnings. Good things coming.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Matusadona Game count

After a week in the bush, your legs are scratched, your beard looks rough, you smell like a cave man and you really enjoy the absence of tsetse flies when you shower. 

Following the dino trip to Mana Angwa I received a phone call out of the blue asking if  
  1. I had a big 4*4 and 
  2. I was interested in doing a game count in Matusadona the next WE. 
Yes! A landie actually makes you popular in these tropics, and people are ready to bet that the landie driver is actually not an unpleasant individual trying to compensate with a square diesel engine. Or maybe they know what to expect but also know that it will be ok to deal with it. 
The negociation with my wife was (not so) tough, not really a negociation as well. I am sure that she did not mind at all staying with the kids, and welcoming 4 friends at home when I was away. She says that it was easy, at the end, to fit all the 8 people in our honda fit. Now that I know that, I will feel less remorse next time.

So, I joined a group of four all of whom turned out to be really interesting and cool people. The Matusadona Game count was organized by the Zambezi Society. 

A game count really consist of walking for some days (4 in our case) in a national park, with a ranger, recording tracks, sights and signs of animals and human activity. The animals are counted in order to estimate the population and species of mamals (and birds,...) in the area, and the human activity to estimate the poaching and interaction between wildlife and humans in the park. 
We camped in the park, walked in the area that was allocated to us and recorded whatever we could see, climbing hills, checking water spots, following animal tracks, and trying to be usefull to the parks and Zambezi Society. 
I hope we did a good job. 
Our walks and observations unfortunatly revealed that if we saw many tracks of animals, buffalo, elephants, porcupines, hyenas, kudus, steinbuck, klipspringers, roan antelopes, sables, zebras, genet cat, etc, the tracks were mainly made of droppings, scats, dungs, poo, shit and middens, along with foot prints, and bones for we have not seen many animals alive. 
We walked, climbed, observed, searched for hours from high viewpoints for signs of meat-fur-and-flesh-moving things but could not see much. In four days we saw a family of elies (about 13 of them, with youngsters and teens), 4 klipspringers, one steinbuck, a couple of wardhogs and squirrels, 2 lions and a shrew. We heard a baboon, and a hyena. Not much. 

On the other hand, the entire area we walked in burned on our second day, we found three skeletons of elephants, whose skulls had been cut so the tusks could be removed and saw for ourselves that the animals were fearing humans: we got charged by the elies, enough to confirm the great training and professionnal reactions of the ranger. 
The area we had to survey is bordering the communal land that is rented to the camp fire project for hunters. The proximity with humans is generally synonymous to low numbers of animals, which we knew from the start. On our second day we spotted a fire starting behind a hill a few km away, so decided to go check it. The ranger knew that they were poachers, as they use that burn tactic to hide their tracks or to see better animals, when hunting with dogs. Reaching the hill top we saw that the fire was not alone, that fires were being lit as far as we could see, in a line, between us and the camp. such fires are made to clear an area, but are also made to move animals in one direction. 
The fire did come very close to the camp and Lucy, who stayed on the campside for the day, packed up the entire camp in the cars and drove them to the river bed, saving the day for us. 
(c) Lucy Broderick, 2014
On our hill top, watching the smokes and hearing the cracks of the wood burning I really felt that such a fire was not really made to help local poachers, but maybe designed to push the game towards the hunting concession. That feeling came back a couple of days later, when, on the main road we came across a hunting party. So on one hand we try to monitor the population of animals, one of the use of it is also to identify the quotas allocated for hunters, and on the other hand we saw something that seemed organized to clean the national park wildlife, push the game to the hunting grounds, and at the end we struggle to see much animals. Human-animal interaction. Humans, one point. For sure, in a country facing economical difficulties, hunters bring big money, poaching as well and there seems to be little alternatives. 
Anyway, the week was very enriching and great, we clicked well in the group. 
It is always amazing to walk in the bush, pay attention to small things, trying to help and make a difference, meeting new people and just doing something new. 
It was also something I set as a goal for 2014: Multiply opportunities to walk in the bush and getting involved in environmental societies. Check. 
Now I need to find some jobs. 

(c) Lucy Broderick, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

a sky a day 2

The sky a day is continuing, with some taken from home, from Chenge camp, on the river (Zambezi) and during that game count on the Matusodona National Park. 
There is something zen about looking in the sky, the clouds and in doing that 5 min watercolour.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wild in Chirundu

We went to B&T's wedding on the banks of the Mighty Zambezi river, in Chirundu, last WE. A quick trip in a stunning place. Amazing sunsets, a lot of elies and the bush that turns colours now. 
The morning of the wedding we went for a river cruise, the family, friends and a springy 88 years old granny. The kids were fishing and only my 4 years-old caught a fillet size bream. She was so happy:  she was then THE expert, telling all the others kids that if they wanted she could catch the fish and they could bring it up. That did not go down well with them, hahaha. For the smallest girl to give fishing advises to her older sibblings, they took it hard on their pride. 

As she was chatting about her skills tree elephants came just right next to us for a drink. They must have smelled the passion fruits and apples we had as snacks. They were chilled, we were right in the wind so they were fully aware of our presence there. They stayed for a full half an hour, it was amazing. 
Sunsets were wonderful, the wedding in the most gorgeous place, in a plain along the river, with hippos in the water, elies on the other side and a group of baboons crossing the plain. Good omens for B&T!
Here under some sketches I did of our trip. 
My colours are still not coming right after the scan, I kind of give up on that issue.