Dip M, DNSEP, (Strasbourg) BA Comb Hons (Exeter)
Mary-Anne Bartlett is a travel and wildlife artist.
She studied Fine Art in Exeter and in Strasbourg where she developed a habit of carrying watercolours and sketchbooks with her wherever she travelled. The great-great-granddaughter of explorer botanist and doctor Sir John Kirk, Mary-Anne has Africa in the blood.
In 1991 Mary-Anne was artist in residence on a Cambridge University expedition called ‘In Livingstone’s Footsteps’. The expedition concentrated on the southernmost area of Malawi, in the Elephant Marsh and in the Lower Shire. Alongside 5 Malawian experts they completed the first survey of the Marsh since Kirk and Livingstone were there in the early 1860s. They then recreated one of the routes that the two explorers had taken on their own, walking the length of the River Shire on foot, a distance of about 160 miles, to Lake Malawi.
Mary-Anne set up Art Safari Ltd in 2002 taking artists around the world to learn to paint wildlife and landscapes.
‘The world is an inspiring place. Sometimes everywhere you look there is another picture.
The most rewarding times I have had travelling have been when sketching – it causes an interaction that is seldom found between tourists and local people. It’s also thoroughly absorbing and addictive. Trying to record a sunset or a market scene in colour, or a moving elephant in line, can be the most intense experience. You have to observe carefully and allow the feeling of the environment to combine into image through your hand on to paper.
A satisfying picture is for me that moment when I feel a total empathy with the subject, either the adrenaline of being near animals, or the sense of calm when they are peacefully distant in their landscape.
I rarely travel anywhere without a sketchbook, pencil and water colours, even if I have a camera too – and I now encourage others to come and join me on Art Safari. An Art Safari is a creative journey through stunning areas of Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Kenya, rich in material for any artist. We sketch every day. Guests are invited to join as experienced artists or as beginners, using observation as a way of learning about the land, people and wildlife.
I have been lucky enough to paint in Antarctica and the Arctic, India and South East Asia, though I spend most of my time between Africa and the UK.’
As a travel writer Mary-Anne has written for various publications, she co-authored the Bradt Guide to Malawi. She contributes articles to arts magazines.
Mary-Anne has a keen interest in conservation projects and wildlife guiding. She also runs Art Safari Charities which has various charitable projects in Malawi and Namibia.
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