Wildlife, landscape and Irish Life Paintings

Clare Artist Ireland, Avril Brand

About Clare Artist / Wildlife Conservation

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Seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat is one of the most memorable experiences. Painting wildlife while living in Ireland helps me relive memories of my birthsoil - Africa. Seeing an animal slowly begin to emerge on canvas gives me great joy and contentment as memories of sights, smells and sounds takes me back to another place and another time.

I am so fortunate to have lived in a country and in places where wild animals were very much a part of our daily lives. My earliest memory of trying to save a wild creature is when I came across a group of men trying to kill a snake with stones and pangas. I knew nothing about snakes at the time - all I could see was that it was a small, hooded snake, trapped against a tree trying desperately to escape.

Where the courage came from, I really don't know as I was more afraid of the men than the snake but I told them to go away and picked up the now limp snake and carried it home. Had I known at the time it was a juvenile 'geelslang', (Cape Cobra - one of the most venomous snakes in southern Africa) maybe I would not have been so brave.

I placed the snake in a large bucket and watched it carefully. There were shallow cut marks and bruises on its beautiful, golden skin and it slowly started to stir. I teased it with a feather duster and as it started to weakly rear up.

I left it for a while and checked back later to see if it was still alive. Happily, the lovely creature seemed to be fine and I took it up the mountain path behind our house and released it. It slithered away into the bushes and my urge to help animals was born.

I learnt as much as I could about snakes and venom and although I was fully aware of how dangerous they are, I realised just how important every creature is to maintain a healthy eco-balance - even very unpopular creatures like snakes.

From that time onwards, until I left South Africa, I have saved countless snakes from human ignorance, sometimes at great personal danger to myself. I have tried to educate and inform people about snakes and their importance to the environment and I hope that my small efforts contributed towards changing a few minds and hearts.

I qualified as a member of the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa, taking tourists on guided field trips to inform and educate them about Flora and Fauna. I especially enjoyed taking children on field trips as the young ones take in so much information and convey it to their parents and families.

Helping to collect hundreds of oil polluted African Penguins and gannets on Robben Island and sending them over to the mainland to be cleaned up and released again was a remarkably rewarding experience as well as the many other animals who were snared or shot. Unfortunately, so many of them could not be saved.

Snake Alert! (left) The molesnake was in danger of being flattened by a bus.

There are so many animals in our world in great danger of becoming extinct - their lives and habitats threatened by human exploitation, greed and ignorance. Fortunately, there are many wonderful people and organisations who dedicate their lives to saving endangered species and habitats.

Please visit the list of Wildlife Conservation Organisations. I will update the list regularly.

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