I have visited the Seychelle Islands twice now, and on each occasion I was able to dedicate time to study the Aldabra Giant Tortoise, now a protected species. The various subspecies of giant tortoises on the islands were wiped out by the visiting sailors in the last centuries since they conveniently provided meat that could be kept alive for the long sea journeys. Mercifully, the Aldabra Atoll was not similarly plundered, so the Aldabra species was reintroduced to all the islands. Being a small collection of islands that relies heavily on the tourist trade to survive economically, many of their endemic species are at risk today.
On close encounters I found each tortoise to have a character of their own. I have met day-old individuals to grand personalities over 130 years old. Their slow but very strong movements, leathery skin and beady eye give me a sense of mystery, and I wonder what stories they could tell of their very long lives.
My second visit involved working on an etching tortoise project, in collaboration with the Seychelle artist George Camille.
I have produced works on the Aldabra Giant Tortoise in oil, pastel, bronze and etching prints. I was very pleased to have my painting LIVING RELICS included in the finalists in the Art Renewal Salon, New York, Competition 2016.