Rashes, welts, bites and hives. My body is 90% covered in them. Why would I get bitten on the elbow? I don’t know, but it’s happened. I’ve also crushed a snail the size of a tennis-ball, seen spiders the size of dinner plates (almost) and encountered all manner of vile insects that are straight out of the ravine scene in that King Kong remake.
From the villages we’ve visited so far, It’s clear that Gambian people are very sociable, and happy to embrace foreigners into their daily lives. The residents of Kubuneh; a village we’ve been painting a lot, are always smiling. They live to simple means, but are rightly very proud of their village.
Since I’ve been in Africa I’ve tried to embrace the environment that surrounds me when making work. This is difficult when the environment has 90% humidity, is baking hot, and is trying to eat me alive.
I’ve been painting patterns on small huts, logs, leaves and trees… But today Xens and I painted a proper obnoxious London banger… The villagers loved it (sort of).
Aside the rashes covering my skin, and the 100% Deet insect repellant actually removing parts of my tattoos (seriously), the thing I’ll take away from Africa is a sense of overwhelming positivity and community from its helpful, astute and incredibly charming residents.
It just goes to show how beautiful a community can be without getting fucked up by ridiculous shit like blackberry, stupid television shows, twitter and TV. God I miss that shit.
– Mysterious Al.
I stepped from the plane onto blistering hot Gambian soil yesterday afternoon and was met by Lawrence and his team and given VIP treatment from the word go. Waiting for my luggage to be brought TO ME in an air conditioned room with an ice cold glass of water was a nice change from fighting it out around the luggage carousel with the rest of the hot and tired travellers.
As I write this, I’m surrounded by lush mangrove swamp; roots and dense foliage keep hidden the beasts and creature that lurk beyond. A heron glides lazily overhead as the sound of something unseen breaks the water. The alien dawn chorus was amazing, the highlight being joined by a pair of toxic green birds, small and inquisitive, bold and unfazed by their new guest standing only feet away. Their crisp digital welcome seeming almost out of place in such an organic, analogue world.
Just heard my first Baboon disagreement, but am yet to catch a glimpse of the little bastards. I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m cornered and mugged for whatever savoury treats I’m carrying. Maybe I should arm myself? What would be the best weapon against a surprise baboon mugging?! I shall remain vigilante.
‘Tis only day 2, but I’m happy to report that so far, I remain unbitten and itch free. The 95% DEET makes my skin buzz and crackle with military grade toxins. Come on you little swines, come and get me.
Below is a view from my room. I’m sure you’ll agree, it aint bad at all.
Big thanks to Sandra Butterfly for getting this online. Read it HERE!
Posted in Art, Artists, Charity, Interviews, Makasutu, Nature, Painting, Shows/Events, Stencils, The Ballabu Conservation Project, The Gambia
Tagged Broken Crow, Eelus, Eine, Juxtapoz, Logan Hicks, Lucy McLauchlan, Makasutu, Mysterious Al, The Ballabu Conservation Project, Wide Open Walls, Xenz
To wet your appetites a little, here’s a sneak peak at one of the new pieces I’ll be painting out at Kubuneh. One of my classic images, ‘Raven Haired’, but given a new lease of life with an African twist. All the birds used in the image are native to The Gambia.
A quick video interview with Lawrence about Makasutu and the amazing work he and his business partner James have been doing in The Gambia.