What Dr Livingstone did not see on his way to Lake Ngam
The artist Keith Dietrich says: “I like describing the world.”
Look carefully and closely at the image above, and also at his painting on the cover of this book (titled You can’t get to Masowe in a Mercedes Benz), to see how he achieves this “describing” of things. Read more about Keith Dietrich’s ideas, regarding both his subject matter and his technique, on the inside flap of the front cover of this book.
Dietrich then says: “The objects with which people surround themselves have provided me with an endless source of material and ideas for paintings. Not only can objects be used to express aspects of the thinking and behavioural patterns of individuals or societies, but collections of objects also reveal the range and diversity
of human stories and cultures.”
(We will later be
returning to these very important ideas, when we talk about museums.
Talk About This
You can see that the objects are placed quite separately on the format, rather than being arranged together as objects are in most still-life paintings. Why, do you think?
Read Dietrich’s words again, about how objects reveal things about people, and about “human stories and cultures”. Then imagine you are an explorer, 200 years from now, returning to this abandoned place once occupied by humans. You find these objects. Think about them carefully: what conclusions might you draw about the people who lived here?
Who was “Dr Livingstone”, in the title? Find out as much as you can about him, and then ask yourselves why Keith Dietrich might have used this title.
The objects in Dietrich’s watercolour paintings, both on the cover and on this page, are painted in what we call a naturalistic style: that is, they look real, and appear as the eye might see them. “I use mostly watercolour”, he said, “because I can paint more realistically and describe best.” (Compare them to the objects in the painting by Arlene Amaler-Raviv on page 11, painted in an expressive style. Why do we call that style “expressive”?)