Reconstructing the “Cradle of Human Kind”
Sometimes the things that you seek come to your encounter in unexpected ways. I have long been obsessed with Africa and its natural heritage. But ever since I first visited Northern Tanzania in 2011 I was especially impressed by the way the distant past and the present combine in that privileged region of the planet. In the very same area you witness amazing spectacles of nature that bring you back to the times when the Pleistocene megafauna reigned supreme; then you come across proud Massai pastoralists whose lifestyle is in many ways true to traditions that have roots in the Neolithic; and then you walk upon the very sediments that have yielded keystone fossils for understanding our evolutionary history. Back then, I tried to explore those relationships with my short film “Evolving Eden: Into Tanzania”.
You can watch the 2-part starting by the 1st section here:
Then about a year ago I was approached by Enrique Baquedano, director of the Museo Arqueológico Regional de Madrid, and Manuel Domínguez Rodrigo, leader of the Spanish excavations in Northern Tanzania, who proposed me to create a collection of illustrations (several of them in very large format) to recreate the life and habitats of our prehistoric relatives in East Africa, with an emphasis on Northern Tanzania. The amount of work to do was daunting, the time limited, and the challenge irresistible. This was an opportunity to update our image about the reality recorded at some of the most classic fossil sites, and to incorporate first-hand information gathered during many strenuous field campaigns. Who could say no?
It has been a long journey, and an exhausting one, but now the work is complete. In a few days the exhibition is planned to open at the Museo Arqueológico Regional, and then in the summer it will begin its own journey to different cities and Museums. Eventually it is planned to settle at the National Museum of Tanzania, in Dar es Salaam. In a way that will close a circle for me. But that is a long way ahead. For now, I am at that stage were your finished work looks so pale in comparison with he ideas and concepts you had in your mind… but like any finished artwork, it will have to go on its own journey. We shall see how well it fares, and at any rate it is out of my control now.
Needless to say, I have managed to include a couple of sabertooth cats in the illustrations! I will comment on them in future posts. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for the exhibit opening…