The art of saving pangolins
We are always blown away by the generosity of people who discover pangolins and decide to join the struggle to stop them being wiped off the face of the earth. Gillian Condy is one such person.
Born in Kenya, Gillian went to primary school in Uganda before her family moved to the UK. There, she received her Masters in botanical illustration from the Royal College of Art, London. Africa worked its special magic and she returned to work for International Voluntary Services and Dept. of Education in Botswana before being offered a job by The Botanical Research Institute, now the South African National Biodiversity Institute as the resident botanical illustrator. This was a job she would hold for 34 years before retiring.
Gillian has been an active freelance artist for 40+ years and teacher for 25, with over 140 international exhibitions and a string of awards to her name. She has illustrated botanical books and designed postage stamps for Botswana and South Africa. She is a member of the South African and American Botanical Artists Associations.
Artist in Residence in pangolin country
In November 2017, Gillian was appointed ‘Artist in Residence’ at the Tswalu Kalahari Private Nature Reserve and made eight trips to the reserve to illustrate the plants over the next 14 months. In addition to plants, Gillian painted some of the animals she encountered at Tswalu.
If you are in Johannesburg, Gillian’s glorious paintings are on exhibition at the Circa Gallery at Everard Read, Keys Ave, Rosebank. The Exhibition is on until 13 March 2021 and entrance is free, all you need is a face mask.
Included in the exhibition are two paintings of pangolins, one is sold and the other, marked NFS (not for sale), is ours! Kindly donated by Gillian to raise funds for our work. At a future date we hope to auction this beautiful, poignant pangolin portrait to the highest bidder. Of course, if someone out there would like to make us a ridiculously generous offer, we might be willing to part with it without all the bidding malarkey! (contact us if you feel you just HAVE to own the painting). You can download Gillian’s exhibition catalogue here to get some idea of the value of her paintings and to marvel in some of the wonderful work she does.
Researchers at Tswalu have used radio telemetry for the past five years to help understand how Temminck’s ground pangolin in the Kalahari cope in their current (and future) environment. This is how Gillian describes her first pangolin encounter in the company of Wendy Panaino, Tswalu’s resident researcher:
At Tswalu I had the amazing opportunity to accompany Wendy Panaino on a number of excursions at night to connect with her research Pangolins. I was totally captivated by these special creatures. The more I learnt about them and their plight, the more angry I became. There is little I can personally do but hoped I could raise some funds towards the wonderful work being done by the (African) Pangolin Working Group.
The illustration was done from one of my photographs of P4, one of Wendy’s friendliest males, who just posed for us, and then walked between us and off into the night.
One of life’s very special moments. Sadly he is no longer with us.
Limited edition prints
If you can’t wait for us to organise the auction, you can own a limited-edition print of the painting almost immediately. The prints are archival quality, printed by Silvertone in Johannesburg, numbered and signed by Gillian and selling at R3500.00 each. There will only be 20 of these 37 x 47 cm prints available. Gillian reports that she has already sold a few of them, and some will be made available at the small gallery at Tswalu, which boils down to very limited numbers being available from the artist. Gillian will only be recouping the cost of printing from the sales, with the majority of the money coming to the African Pangolin Working Group.
To get your pango-loving claws on a print, email Gillian who will only send through her banking details if there is a print available. The price excludes postage and packaging, which will have to be arranged before payment is made.