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Patrick Mavros’ studio lies on the outskirts of Harare, clinging to a treed hill with a view that continually draws you back to stand in front of a great pane of glass. A fourth-generation Zimbabwean, Patrick is now a world-class artist but hasn’t abandoned his home country despite the difficulties of the last few years which must have tempted him at times to seek an easier life elsewhere. Having begun by carving a pair of ivory earrings for his wife, Patrick now creates detailed studies of animals, birds, seashells, trees first rendered in blue and green wax and then cast in sterling silver from mines in Zimbabwe. His work ranges from tiny ornate wildlife cufflinks to great ornate table pieces for the Duke of Westminster’s banquet table depicting stags and pheasant on a craggy base of hollow silver. Each piece carries a story and individuality which makes it quite special. His studio presents itself as something of a gathering point for African artefacts (head stools, ox carts, drums) which find themselves later on among the silver in his gallery in London’s Fulham Road. The man himself, tall and rangy with longish greying hair around a genial face, is very much evidence. Appearing in the gallery to chat to guests and invite them for a look around the studio, he is justifiably proud and passionate about his work. His is now a family business with his wife and three of his sons involved in either the creative or operational aspects of the business. The studio also trains and employs many local Zimbabweans who can be seen at work on both on special commission pieces or the diverse gallery collection. It is well worth a visit. Have a look at Patrick’s work: www.patrickmavros.com. There are some great little stories on animals here too
One of the most important decisions about the future of East Africa's elephants is due to be made in March of this year. The decision relates to the CITES ban (the International Convention for Trade in Endangered Species) which currently prevents the sale of ivory. The choice being considered this year is a very simple one, but the consequences could be catastrophic for East Africa's remaining elephant population. In simple terms it is this: Should countries such as Tanzania and Zambia be allowed to cash in their ivory stocks, or should the ban be renewed and strengthened preventing the sale of all ivory. Elephants in East Africa are already under severe pressure since the decision to allow the sale of "legal" ivory stocks in 2008. There is no difference between legal and ilegal ivory in East Africa. There are no sound reasons for lifting of a ban, other than greed, pure and simple. If you would like to read more about this, then have a look at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/no-more-trade-in-elephant-ivory where you can also add your name to Daphne Sheldrick's petition.
You'll have to excuse a shaky camera, but hopefully this little film will go someway to explaining why we think Southern Loliondo and the eastern edges of the Serengeti are amongst the most beautiful places in Africa...
Over the last couple of months, I’ve started to get acquainted with my Zimbabwean neighbours, both in Harare and out in the rural areas. Since people-watching is endlessly fascinating and a very useful way to spend a morning, I’ve had the opportunity to observe some interesting, yet trivial things. Firstly, Zimbabweans are incredibly animated in conversation, which is generally conducted at a pretty impressive volume, usually accompanied by energetic, evocative gestures that extend to the face and body – a great deal of laughter, arm waving and eyebrow raising. I often wish my comprehension of Shona was a great deal more advanced, since the stories that are being related look like they’d be up there with Kipling’s Just So Stories for sheer entertainment value. The second notable aspect is the names that many Zimbabweans sport. Consequently, I am on a mission now to find out how the parental deliberations are conducted prior to the naming of a child. Just by way of example, here are a few of the people that I have come across so far: Hardlife (Gardener), Godknows (Waiter), Blessing, Thankyou, Exorbitant (Doctor), Talent, Precious, Credence (Retail Marketing Exec), Persuade (Sales Executive), Lovemore (Credit Manager), Nearest (Operations Manager), Loveness. In a web-site detailing the top 100 Zimbabwean names, Perseverance, Learnmore, Copyright and Passmore all feature. I do wonder when I am introduced to someone with an intriguing name, whether the handle is intended to convey something of the parent’s hopes for the child or whether it just sounded good at the time.