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Kabete lake

After “Beach bums” I wanted a change of technique from controlled areas of flat paint to something more gestural. I thought back to early days in Nairobi when I had nearly sat on a cobra that was under a log where I had sat to look at this view. It must have been late March or early April then as well, so the synchronicity appealed to me.

This is almost a record of imperialism’s impact on Africa. You are seeing trees that are alien to England and alien to Africa, with wattles and blue gums from Australia and pines from Mexico, all imported, for profit. Only the fever trees are native.

This view has probably gone now, buried in the creeping urbanisation, but it was/ is the headwater of the Gatheru river.

The technique involved using a single size of brush with a lot of loose wrist action to indicate the wattle flowers and the long grass on the slopes, which I then enhanced by a little bit of palette knife work before dragging the surface when it was semi dry. There is scratch work with the back of a palette knife used on the gum trees, the Mexican pines and the reeds. I also touched up the reeds with a pencil.

This is too close to reportage, although salvaged from memory to satisfy me but painting it was a n exorcism of the fright the snake gave me, (he was equally frightened, fleeing in a n almost straight lien int e opposite direction to that in which I jumped.) By way of compensation a few days later I saw my first duiker in the grass on the near bank by the big wattle on the right.

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