As I write this, I have just returned from my Borneo Art Safari in Borneo’s Danum Valley. For this Festival of Wildlife run by Wildlife Worldwide I joined a team of naturalists and photographers on a week long trip into the heart of the Bornean rainforest.
Together with TV presenters Nick Baker and Nigel Marven and wildlife photographers Nick Garbutt and Alex Hyde we provided workshops and presentations for no less than 31 guests who joined our Borneo Art Safari. I ran daily animal sculpture workshops for 11 participants.
All complete novices to sculpture, they produced under my guidance some fantastic animal sculptures based on animals they had seen on their travels. At the end of the tour all their sculptures were carefully wrapped and brought back to the UK for me to fire and finish ready to be returned to their owners, providing a unique memento of Danum Valley.
Each day we rose before dawn so we could get to the fruiting trees in time to see the last of the nocturnal feeding before the animals disappeared. My highlight (and top of my wish list) was a close encounter with a binturong, a large black arboreal civet also known as a bear cat. We saw orang-utan every day and other primates including the elusive tarsier.
The rainforest is a truly awe inspiring environment, perhaps best appreciated from the canopy walkway, which affords spectacular views across the forest as rhinoceros hornbills fly by. Night walks and drives provide a whole new experience as the forest comes alive with the sound of cicadas and frogs. We watched in wonder as flying squirrels leapt from branch to branch before launching into flight.
On the last night an auction was held in aid of orang-utan conservation. All the experts contributed something, whether it be a signed book or a day in the editing room with Nigel Marven (I had my eye on that one). I’m delighted to say my Bornean horned frog sculpture, along with the animal sculpture I made for my demo, raised £1,700.
You can see my frog sculpture in the photo below, where he was introduced to his real life counterpart (who was later safely returned to the rainforest where he was found). All in all, my Borneo Art Safari was a truly inspiring experience and I can’t wait to get started on some Bornean animal sculptures, starting with my favourite, the binturong
If you’re interested in joining an art safari of your own there’s still time to join me and wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt in India, the land of the tiger, in March 2018. Full details and booking area available through Wildlife Worldwide.