Life Force
Tamara Venn

Life Force

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Part of the "A Land in Flux" Collection - 2023

Limited edition of 150 prints, signed and numbered: 60cm x 77cm.

Printed on HP Matte Litho Paper, 180gsm

Sold unframed. 

Many times people asked me why I hadn’t painted elephants, and my answer was I had never felt I had come up with a painting idea that would do them justice. They are noble animals with significant importance to many cultures. This piece focuses on an organization I respect hugely – The Elephant Valley Project – in Mondulkiri. The largest elephant sanctuary in Cambodia with 1500 hectares of forest, rivers, grassland and bamboo groves for their 12 ex-working elephants to roam freely and to be elephants again. Nearby is the Virachey National Park, where renowned Fauna & Flora International are working to survey the biodiversity and protect the wildlife and  people living within and near the park. The Red-Shanked Douc Langur featured in this painting is a critically endangered old world monkey native to Cambodia. Their incredibly unique colouring is so outrageous I had to paint them! Supporting these organisations goes so far in protecting the incredible and often widely unknown wildlife that Cambodia still has. It’s a never ending battle between those who wish to destroy beauty and those who will dedicate their lives to preventing that from happening. This is a thank you and dedication to those people and to the incredible wildlife I thank my lucky stars we still have.

A Land in Flux: 

"This collection of paintings was created within a span of a year, since the end of my first show, Kaleidoscope, in 2022. This new exhibition is called A Land in Flux since these paintings were conceived, planned, and painted during a time of change in Cambodia.

I wanted to capture the beauty as well as the peril of the collision of nature and humans and the subsequent threat to Cambodia’s ecosystems. I also wanted to document the work of conservation groups that I was fortunate enough to witness. My visits in early 2023 to the island of Koh Ach Seh in Kep Province and later to the Phnom Tnout Phnom Pok Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear Province provided me with the inspiration to paint Come Full Circle and The Protectors.

Animals are almost always the focus of my work and I try to portray them accurately and with attention to detail. I also give space to the imagined by setting the wildlife subjects in lush, often-fantastical botanical settings with flora becoming almost abstract. It is a tricky proposition to balance the real and the romantic. Moreover, colour is at the centre of each of my paintings. I compose them so that colour is as important as the subject matter. I draw much inspiration from artists who are masters in these aspects, such as Henri Rosseau, David Hockney and Helen Frankenthaler.

Finally, I also tried to capture the everyday interactions of humans and animals in Cambodian towns and cities. These scenes may soon be quaint remnants of a bygone era. I can foresee a more developed, faster-paced society leaving no room for these kinds of interactions in the future. I tried to preserve this in the paintings Best Friends and Slow Living.

Cambodia in 2023—these paintings are my way of preserving on canvas a particular place and time. These are visual documents, in a way, of fleeting places and ways of life. While change may be a constant, I believe that we must reflect on how we can—and must—preserve the riches of our natural heritage before we are left with only painted representations and memories".

Tamara Venn is best known for her large scale botanical murals and her contrasting miniature pen and ink illustrations of flora. Originally from London, UK and having studied painting at Central St Martin’s College of Art & Design her work can be seen dotted around Cambodia and the UK. Nature, its brilliance and its fragility in such an increasingly developing world is the subject that runs throughout her work. Each piece celebrates the beauty of the natural world – her mission statement , ‘if we take care of nature now we won’t only be left with painted reminders of what was once here before’.