Why I Will Vote No

“Hunting, including trapping (or the catching of wild birds by means of traditional clap-nets for the purpose of keeping the any caught birds alive in captivity), is allowed on about 160 Sq. Km. Of the Maltese islands and, with about 12,000 shooters and 4,000 trappers, the resulting density (some 80 sportsmen per square kilometer of huntable land) is considerable, but then Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Maltese hunters and trappers thus form an important part of the economic, social, cultural and political life of the islands, and any hunter/trapper thus expects to exercise his legal right to practice hunting and trapping in the traditional manner, so long as he is fully aware that his harvesting does not constitute any threat to any particular species.”

The above quote, taken from the website of the FKNK, Malta’s Federation for Hunting and Conservation, is a fair and valid point, and I can agree with much of the above, until that is, we reach the last line.

The federation itself admits that the hunting and trapping of birds is a right, but not if that right goes against the protection of any particular vulnerable migratory bird species, or any species that may become vulnerable in the future if such practices are allowed to continue.

Hunting on the Maltese Islands is a deeply-rooted tradition. Buskett woodland was created by the Knights specifically for hunting, but they also revered their aptitude for breeding falcons, so one cannot deny that hunters and trappers are not so very different than bird-keepers, pigeon-fanciers and bird-watchers.  All are great lovers of the outdoors and of nature (both groups of people probably get out into the countryside more than the rest of us) and what they love has doubtless been passed down from grandfather to grandson, experiences shared many a time during a family or social gathering.

But the world has many barbaric traditions, many of which have thankfully been eradicated, at least in most parts of the world (if only the persecution of gays and the bullfight were next, to name two examples). And whilst hunting may have benefits in curbing population growth in certain species, the hunting of any rare, endangered or vulnerable species should be banned. In the same way that the world fights to protect the rhino, the elephant, and the tiger, these birds should be at least given a fighting chance. Malta should be a safe haven for these birds on their migration; a place relatively free from predators and competing species where they can raise and fledge their chicks before heading North or South.

One argument against saying ‘no’ is: why should Malta ban its hunting when Europe does not? The UK has succeeded in banning much of its fox hunting, and though game birds and deer may be hunted, there are of course restrictions in place. I believe that Malta should show its stance as an independent and progressive country that is able to stand up for its own rights and to make its own decisions, without needing Europe or the rest of the world to tell it what to do.

Regardless of how deeply any tradition runs in society, there should be limits. If the crafts of glass-blowing or lace-making were to be abolished, Malta would certainly lose a wonderful piece of its heritage. These are harmless traditions. But what is not harmless is the blemished reputation it has acquired due to to the sight of beautiful pallid harriers, egrets, flamingos and more falling from the sky in cold blood. In our society today, is it just to kill of any living thing, be it a pigeon or a bird of prey? We do not hunt for the economy or gastronomy, and this blood sport is even harming Malta’s prospects as an eco-tourism destination.

Why would you destroy the the life of any living species; in abundance or otherwise, merely to decorate a glass cabinet?

Killing is not a hobby. And that is why I will vote ‘No’ to spring hunting.

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I Adopted a Rhino!

Adopt a Rhino World Widlife Fund

It’s not always easy to do out bit for conservation. There are so many truly valuable and worthy causes that it’s impossible to choice. However, there are certain causes that I feel very strongly about, and the plight of the black rhino is one of them.

It’s too late for the white rhino; we failed a species, we failed a continent. But through education, selflessness, passion and determination, we can protect this one.

The Horse in Art

The theories surrounding the myths of Palaeolithic art have been born, cast aside and challenged ever since the first caves were discovered back in the late 1800’s. Whilst we will never truly know why our ancestors painted certain species within the depths of Europe’s Ice Age caves, it seems that our ancestors were great admirers of the natural world, and quite possibly were simply painting the world as they saw around them.

chauvet-4-horses

On first glance, the panel of horses at Chauvet in France are no more or less unremarkable than any other painted panel from the same epoch, but on closer inspection, this panel is something special. Depicting dynamic movement instead of static figures, use of perspective and shading for a powerful visual effect. The four horses that dominate the panel teeter on top of one another like a circus act; belittling the plane of perspective that they seem to sit on.

The composition of these horses and their stylised eyes and manes draws great comparison to the lost work of German Expressionst Franz Marc.

The ‘Tower of Blue Horses’ is one of Marc’s finest paintings, depicting a subject he greatly admired and worked hard to capture; the horses. Fascinated by the masculine and feminine qualities of this majestic animal, Marc no doubt shared his war years in close companionship with the horses who toiled, fought and died alongside him.

Looking closely at Marc’s ‘Tower’ and the Chauvet panel, it is striking just how similar these two compositions are. (Chauvet was not discovered until 1994, Marc died in battle in 1916). Both pieces are arranged in a tier – with four horses almost precariously balanced on top of each other and gazing downwards and left. Marc has rejected traditional shading and realism to depict an almost mythical, spiritual horse that exudes power and grace. The bodies of both the lower horses seem to solidfy the rest of the scene, yet the figures are also distinctly separate.

Marc’s depiction and style of subject was not unique, as the horses of Chauvet were not unique either. However, perhaps both artists were seeking the same goal; a visual, spiritual representation of admiration.

tower-blue-horses

The ‘Tower of Blue Horses’ has unfortunately been missing since 1945, so, like the horses of Chauvet, the secrets of these stunning pieces may never be fully understood.

Another question one feels compelled to ask is, what is it about the horse that seems to capture the human imagination? From 40,000 year old homo sapiens to enamoured young girls to Classical Greek and Renaissance artists, the horse has long fascinated us. A beast of burden, a mounted arm, a racing champion; the horse has had many uses throughout the centuries, but what use was the Paleolithic horses? Was it hunted, or feared, or respected?

Marc himself said of the horse : Only today can art be metaphysical, and it will continue to be so. Art will free itself from the needs and desires of men. We will no longer paint a forest or a horse as we please or as they seem to us, but as they really are.” And this essence seems reflecting in the horses of Chauvet, Lascaux and Peche-Merle, amongst others. The horses here are not painted as sources of food, or fear, but painted as respected, almost god-like beings.  (Note that the horses seem to dwarf the fearsome rhinos beneath them.)

This sensitive, powerful animal has captured the artist’s imagination for centuries, and for me, Marc’s honest and touching rendition of this subject in bold, vivid colours and smooth lines is the perfect correlation between Palaeolthic and Modern art.

palaeolithic-horses-painting
Little Chinese Horses, Oils on Canvas, 2013

 

It seems a shame that in this BBC list of ten great horses in art that Chauvet was not listed, as for its great age and skill, it is surely one of the finest.

Black, White & Colour

We’re all (hopefully) familiar with the colour wheel; we’ve been taught how to use it, and how not to use it, and learned what colours compliment, and which don’t work so well. Whilst I am a huge fan of bright, bold primary colours and using vivid yet limited colour palettes, I get the feeling that black and white are underestimated.

The Impressionists were against using white in their paintings. A ‘white’ object, when painted, is never truly white; it in fact reflects all of the colours, light and shadows around it. Shadows are never truly ‘black’; but try trying to paint a rich deep, darker-than-grey shade without black, and it’s never quite rich enough.

Ignoring these supposed rules, black and white have endless possibilities. You can throw together as many bold and crazy colours as you like; but add black and whites to them, and suddenly the whole composition will become coherent.

Below are some examples I’ve chosen that emphasis this rich harmony of black, white and colour, in various unique ways:


Henri Matisse, Sorrow of the King (1952)


Franz Marc Dog Before the World, 1912


Caravaggio Saint Jerome Writing, 1606


Lemakoo Art Flowers


Nature does it pretty well, too.

Thylacine Oil PaintingAnd my own painting ‘Thylacine‘ using black as a bold, neutralising colour. I will be exploring this colour harmony in more detail in the coming weeks.

What do you think about this subject? Can you suggest any examples of paintings/artefacts that demonstrate this wonderful colour harmony?

World Rhino Day and a Dangerous Realisation

Today is #worldrhinoday

2014 was a year when the countless foundations, conservationists and individuals fought hard. The poachers fought just as hard.

The Bad News: Each day, on average, three African rhinos are killed for their horns.

The Good News: Despite the slaughter, rhino numbers worldwide are actually increasing … thanks to the International Rhino Foundation and its partners in countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, India and Indonesia.

More than 500 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone. View the full statistics here

But, we will keep fighting!

Make your voice heard for rhinos now, this could be the last World Rhino Day if we don’t act.

384468_482702308463369_739694007_n
This painting is currently up for sale. Give your best offer, and this painting will be yours, with proceeds helping to raise funds and awareness for these fantastic creatures.

Contact cjwaterfield@gmail.com for enquiries

#teamrhino

The Art of Looking

I’m used to seeking inspiration for my art from grand, sweeping landscapes and details scenes, but with a new series of works in the pipeline, I’m going to change the way I look at things, focusing on the details and analysing anatomy and the senses with a new purpose.

Because when we stop to think about it, what is  it that really makes a species unique? Not its base anatomy surely; most vertebrates are made up of a head, body, limbs, an obvious front end and back end. Most have eyes and other sensory organs, most have a mouth. But the way that each species has evolved  has provided a pretty stunning collection of differences, ones that are often overlooked. Perhaps we overlook the elephant’s incredible sound-detector feet because we are distracted by the iconic trunk and ivory pricetags.

 

elephantPhoto by Matt Nelson

These new paintings will focus on the small and seemingly insignificant, almost abstract qualities, but each with its own unique story to tell.

My Style and What it Means to Me

Recently, I’ve varied in style quite a bit; I’ve painted some pretty abstracted works, a couple of portraits and peoples of varying ethnicities and generally limited the amount of animals featuring in my paintings.

So why is it one always feels so drawn back to that one particular style? Their one unique little niche in the art world that just keeps hanging around.

For me, it is my ‘Solutrean’ style paintings, named for the first painting created in that style: The Solutrean Expression. What started off as modern interpretation of the Lascaux cave‘s Panel of the Red Cow and Chinese Horse has developed into a bold and I hope original style that is able to express so many of my desires: conservation, protection and admiration of the natural world.

Chloe Waterfield Art Oil Paintings Malts
The Solutrean Expression – the signature piece.

This style, I feel, best incorporates the true values of nature; those unique aspects of those unique creatures, their movements, their unusual anatomy, or simply those unfortunate ones who are no longer on this planet.

Thylacine Oil Painting Tasmanian Tiger Chloe Waterfield Art

Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) – The poor Tazzy Tiger, wrongly accused of killing sheep throughout New Zealand, and all too soon exterminated. The last Thylacine died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. (This painting is for sale. Enquiries may come to cjwaterfield@gmail.com)

The ‘Solutrean’ style can offer total colour freedom or can work for a limited palette, and so everytime the results are surprising, and the majority of the times a pleasant surprise. A rich blend of colour to me evokes vast emotions, both negative and positive in one fell swoop, and once you get to know each one’s unique story, this emotion is only heightened.

Symbiosis Oil Paintings Malta Chloe Waterfield Art
Symbiosis – The intricate relationship between one of Africa’s largest and most dangerous mammals, the Buffalo, and the humble oxpecker, dedicated to cleaning the ticks and parasites off these majestic beasts.  (This painting is for sale. Enquiries may come to cjwaterfield@gmail.com)

Now tell me about your own style of art and what it means to you!