1510 The Guardians of the Mangrove Oyster

Pre-selected for The Columbia Threadneedle Prize (2016), November 2015.

Cambs & Hunts Ladies County Golf Association were raising funds for the County Juniors, so I donated this painting to CHLCGA as a raffle prize on County President’s Day at Old Nene Golf Club, 24th August 2017. The lady who won it was extremely pleased, as she had ties with Gambia. Splendid!

Artist Code: 1510. Completed 15 May 2015. Original Acrylic on stretched canvas. Unframed 30” x 24”, stretched canvas; framed size 31″ x 25″ (solid wood, hand made frame, finished in matt white.

Two Gambian women (one with babe in arms) hard at work shucking oysters, and another showing off her beautiful Festival head attire. All set in a typical mangrove forest, and village, with middens (ancient and new piles of oyster shells) amongst the sunlight and shade.

This picture was painted to complement a lecture under the ‘Pint of Science’ event, given by Dr Helen Scales (Marine Biologist, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge) in the Cambridge Boathouse, 18 May 2015 entitled ‘Guardians of the oyster forest’.

‘…Deep within mangrove forests of The Gambia, women gather the nation’s favourite seafood delicacy: oysters. Thanks to a pioneering community project, the future for these women and the threatened wetlands they depend on looks brighter than it did five years ago. The oyster pickers are now official owners and protectors of the forest and its valuable resources – a first for women in Africa. Helen Scales went to see the women at work and partake in an oyster festival like no other.’ It was wonderful to work with Dr Scales and to be a part of this now traditional annual festival of talks.

A little poem for 1510 and 1510a.

With old tin can and wooden pick
She toils all day in mud so thick
The tasty morsels in their shell
Beneath the wet securely dwell
But when the tide recedes to bay
She digs and digs—no time to play
As mussels form a hefty part
of Gambian people’s daily diet
So when the time is ripe to gather
All the ladies do come hither
The Mangrove forest does provide
A tasty meal and more beside
A staple that is also sent
To distant lands with great event
But thankful they find time to prance
And hold a great big festival dance