MISSUE NO. 3424 

June 17 - 23, 2011


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Coastweek -- Mohamed Ismail's recent work entitled: 'Two Companions of Many Years'.


Mohamed Ismail: An Artist’
Life And A 'Lost Wilderness'


Coastweek -- More than four decades ago Mohamed Ismail was then an adventure traveller ranging far and wide across the globe.

Later it became difficult, as he had young children to care for and therefore compelled to come back to Kenya and to operate mainly within East Africa and within reach of his family.

Now that his children have come of age, he has again started his global travels.

A few months ago he was in several U.S. states from Minnesota, South Dakota through to Arizona.

Former wildlife conservationists including Tom Gilbert, Anno Hecker, Dave King, Patrick Hemingway and Frank Poppleton have been his friends since the 1960’s and they have kept their friendship alive over all these years.

Coastweek - - Mohamed Ismail

I spoke to Mohamed from Istanbul two weeks ago where he is spending time with his grandson.

Knowing his deep commitment to wildlife conservation as an ecologist and a former game warden I have always inquired after his many projects including raising funds for organizations he cares about especially botanical and zoological institutions.

Currently top on his priority is Wildaid, which is doing considerable work in south-east Asia on elephant, tiger and avi-faunal conservation.

Mohamed has offered to donate six of his latest wildlife paintings to help raise funds for various projects there.

Asked if he would do the same for Kenya he said although the East African Wildlife Society had several years ago through Fiona Alexander done considerable work in pooling the resources of various artists to create the renowned Whale Tail Exhibition, since then no serious effort has been undertaken to raise funds through artists.


Coastweek - - 'At First Light' - Mohamed Ismail.

Coastweek - - 'The Greeting' - Mohamed Ismail.

Coastweek - - 'Words of Wisdom to the Young' - Mohamed Ismail.


It is also possible that the main players of yore may have left Kenya for greener pastures elsewhere.

Political events in Kenya and frequent reports of the killing and poisoning of wildlife do not augur well for Kenya, he said.

The heydays of movie makers who provided so much publicity for Kenya, especially with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep playing key roles in Out of Africa are gone and forgotten today.

Hollywood movies about stories of Africa filmed in Kenya brought a considerable number of tourists to Kenya.

However, high taxes compelled producers to go elsewhere and Kenya has plunged herself in a deep quagmire.

He also feels that the ban on hunting which came into effect in 1977 and is still in force did a lot of damage to a sustainable wildlife management economy.

Despite the misconceptions which were prevalent, 'controlled hunting' was done out of National parks and game reserves.

The presence of hunters kept poachers out of these wilderness areas.

He believes that the licensing of firearms for sporting purposes should be under the umbrella of KWS and totally removed from Central Firearms Bureau.

Applicants should satisfy KWS board members of their responsibility and knowledge of firearms, identification of various mammals, plant species and birds before they are granted a licence to acquire a weapon.

Mohamed has painted a lot of elephants that he has seen and observed for many hours throughout East Africa.

The habitat of these magnificent animals has shrunk alarmingly and it would seem that with the ever burgeoning human population they are headed for extinction.

He recalls with nostalgia the vast herds of elephants he used to see along the lower Tana River in the early 1960’s.

Kenya’s finest game fields were here along the lower Tana River.

Ask any former game warden or professional hunter.

It was Mohamed Ismail, Abdulla el Bussaidy, Ken Smith and Denis Zaphiro who realized the potential these areas had as bio-spheres of extreme beauty and economic gain for Kenya.

Together they created the Boni, Dodori, and the Tana River Primate Game Reserves.


Coastweek - - 'Vantage Point' - Mohamed Ismail.

Coastweek - - 'Dead Duck' - Mohamed Ismail.

Coastweek - - 'Leopard' - Mohamed Ismail.


They were also instrumental in the establishment of the Kiunga and Mpunguti Marine Reserves.

"Art like writing is tough business, most artists achieve fame posthumously.

"It is only when an artist is no longer in this world, that the hyenas and vultures in human form descend on the artist’s work, willing to pay prices which were denied the artist when he was alive!"

"I have been self-taught, but studied the works of various masters from various periods.

"Ruben, Rembrandt, Delacroix, Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and the 19th century Orientalists, especially Jean Leon Gerome."

"I also make it a point to visit museums everywhere I go.

"I have spent time at the Prado, the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Los Angeles Museum of Art.

"One can learn a lot from these masters.

"Bartolome Esteban Murillo’s realism amazes me considering that during his time he never had the gadgets we have today which help us enormously in the creative sphere."

Mohamed finds it flattering that the late Andy Warhol created a series of silk screens of endangered wildlife species in 1983 and used his photograph of a Grevy’s zebra among five animal species Warhol created on the advice of Ronald Feldman Galleries.

See link:- http://www.coskunfineart.com/details.asp?workID=485

Art and wildlife are aesthetic and therapeutic.

Cahil Marduff, Cyprus.






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