Wild and domestic animals are a passion for Rarangi artist Karen Neal and they appear regularly in her art work.
Pastels, pencils, oils and a new art form, scratch board, are the mediums she uses and examples can be seen in her first solo exhibition, which opened in Blenheim yesterday.
An oil painting to be auctioned, Christian the Lion, will be a centrepiece and all proceeds will be donated to the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust.
That is raising money to redevelop the Kora National Park in Kenya, a project Neal learnt about after reading a book about a London-raised lion cub rehabilitated at the park. The cub had been bought in 1970 by two Australian friends from a pet shop. A year or so later when it became too large for their London flat, they left it in the care of conservationist George Adamson, who was working in Kenya.
Christian adapted to life in the wild but old affections weren't forgotten when the Australian friends visited the park a year later. Forty years on, film footage recording embraces between the two men and the wild cat become a popular YouTube video, Neal says.
She is selling a limited number of Christian the Lion prints, too, and 10 per cent of their price will also be donated to the preservation trust.
Conservation causes closer to home are not forgotten, though, and 5 per cent of all work Neal sells is donated to bodies such as the SPCA, the Orana Wildlife Park and a group seeking shelter for the Kaimanawa wild horses.
Oils were used to paint Christian the Lion but Neal is excited by a new medium she has started working with, scratchboard.
Her image of a Madagascan lemur on scratchboard received the Judges' Merit Award in the Nelson Art Awards last month and was runner-up People's Choice.
Scratchboard can be compared to the "scraper-foil" prints school pupils do, she says, but using a Masonite board layered with white kaolin clay, then black Indian ink. An artist etches or scratches away by the ink with a range of tools to create a white image. Neal's tools include blades, fibreglass brushes, tattooing needles, sandpaper and steel wool.
Silent auction bids for Christian the Lion can be made through Neal's website, wild-impressions.co.nz or at the exhibition, which continues until November 14 at the Yealands Estate Marlborough Gallery, High St, Blenheim.
- The Marlborough Express