In times of drought, danger and difficulty the survival of an elephant herd depends on its leader’s instincts to know whether to fight or flee, run or walk or find those paths invisible to us that lead the herd to water.
The Matriarch of a herd is more than a leader; she is a vault of knowledge. She knows where to go when times are tough, she knows how much she can push boundaries with other herds to make sure her herd drinks first, and she is above all a protector of the young and frail.
So many times we have observed herds stop and wait for the very young or very old, or scold a naughty teenager taking too much water or delaying the progress of the herd.
I think my great love of elephants came not from standing in the shadow of magnificent and tolerant hugely tusked bulls just a few feet away, but rather from watching the Matriarchs and how they invest everything in their family.
The size of an elephant is what gives it its strength, but it is also its Achilles heel.
In times of oppressive heat and drought every decision they make is critical.
Don’t drink enough and you will die of thirst, don’t walk far enough away from the water to where the grazing is still good and you will die of hunger. In tough times these are every day decisions.
There are many cases of elephants so desperate for a drink after being forced to search for food sometimes more than a day’s walk away, that have upon returning to water drunk so much that they have perished. There are also many examples of those who simply have not made it back to the water at all.
This work tells the tale of the Matriarch, those resilient, brilliant and resourceful female elephants who have successfully navigated nature’s feasts and famines for the better of their herd.
Exhibition: 173cm x 122 cm (68” x 48”)
Large: 146cm x 103 cm (57.5” x 40.5”)
Classic: 118cm x 83 cm (46.5” x33”)