Strawberry Hill Farm hosts the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy office. We have built a new office block on the farm to be used as the office for the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy. The final interior layout is almost completed and furnished but as a final touch, we wanted to liven up the walls with colorful paintings. We have some incredible species endemic to Grootvadersbosch and decided to dedicate the art instalments to them. We chose five of our endemic species to be the subjects of the new art pieces; the Bosmansbos Forest Shrew, the Grootvadersbosch Ghost Frog, The Grootvadersbosch Dwarf Chameleon, the Forest Emperor Butterfly, the Freesia sparrmanii and the Tradow Red Fin Fish. Although it’s found more widespread than the others, the grumpy Strawberry Rain frog was also added because its Aileen’s favorite species. When deciding who to ask to paint these images, we did not hesitate to contact our local artist, Donovan Julius. Donovan uses a very vibrant, energetic art style that would perfectly capture the species and, at the same time, give light and energy to the room.
Donovan grew up in Suurbraak, a town on the Southern boarder of the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy. He has had an interesting career path and has only been a full time artist for three years. He is naturally blessed with an artistic ability and started his artistic journey at school where he would pen tattoos onto his fellow students who would queue to be next to receive their unique markings! He started and ran a successful tattoo parlor in Knysna but the lengthy time spent away from his family in Suurbraak proved too difficult for him. He decided that being with his family was his number one priority and so he moved back to Suurbraak where he then decided to finally pursue a career in art. He used his home in Suurbraak to open his first art gallery and named it the Zincgallery. It was here that he was found by an international artist and invited over to the United Kingdom to present his work at an art expedition where all his paintings were sold. After his return a beautiful old building came up for rent, right next to the main road, this was his sign to go for it and he create a studio gallery. He hasn’t looked back since and, with his natural affinity for art and a strong, creative passion, his career has grown strongly over the last three years. His gallery is one of Suurbraak's biggest attractions.
Donovan is an incredibly talented local artist and we couldn’t recommend him more for anyone looking for vibrant, energetic work that also really captures the subject of the painting. Donovan thrives when you allow his creativity to flow with no restrictions to specific ideas that prevent his brush from going where it wants to.
Donovan is a big community player and lives by the motto of “help thy neighbor”. He was thus the perfect person to work with us for a community project. The Grootvadersbosch Conservancy, Cape Nature and the Table Mountain Fund, recently teamed up to implement the GASPP project (Grootvadersbosch Aquatic Species Protection Program) where the rivers and tributaries of the conservancy are being monitored to establish a baseline for river management. As an extension to the project Strawberry Hill Farm, the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy and the Table Mountain Fund teamed up with Donovan to educate the local youth about the freshwater ecosystem of the river that flows through their town. The mission was to help the Suurbraak community to understand that they have a responsibility in keeping their river clean and that their actions can directly affect the river ecosystem.
The lesson included a talk from Dr Martine Jordaan (Fresh Water Ecologist with Cape Nature) about river species and ecology. The students had an opportunity to see Galaxias (a monitored indigenous fish species) that were captured in research nets before allowing the students to release the fish back into the river. The children loved being near the water and especially enjoyed being able to observe the captured Galaxia fish. After the talk by Martine, the students joined Donovan on a quest to paint the towns storm drains and gutters with images of fish to remind the community that waste that ends up on the street will get washed down the drainage system and into the rivers! This was a great way for the kids to get involved and the passion they showed in painting the drains was amazing. Every child had the opportunity to paint using spray paint and a stencil. Donovan’s artistic nature definitely shone through the kids as they produced some amazing and colorful iterations of the artwork. Donovan would continuously ask the children why we were doing this to drive the message home and it certainly worked. Hopefully we have produced a gang of kids to lead the way in reduced waste in our local rivers!
Life in a forest in the mountains