Spirit of Namibia 3

Spirit of Namibia 3 by Cath Duncan. 2021. Mixed media on canvas board.


Namibia is a country that has a very special place in my heart. I’ve traveled through Namibia three times, and every time I’ve felt changed by it and shed tears as I crossed the border on the return home to South Africa. So I was delighted to receive a Namibian landscape commission request, and I set out to try to capture the spiritual essence of Namibia.

I worked in layers; first applying thick acrylic paint with a palette knife. Once dry, I worked it up, with Gelatos and charcoal to create stark and simple scenes, uninterrupted by story. No houses, people, animals, cars, machinery… just big skies, infinite horizons, silence, and the sand, sun, wind, and light. Anything could happen. I remember how the spaciousness of the Namibian geography uncluttered my mind and persuaded me that life could be simple and I was free to do and be anything.

You’d be mistaken if you’re thinking that “all that nothing” would make a long trip terribly boring. On the contrary, the nothingness is what makes it possible to see and appreciate the rich colours, the glowing light, and the subtle, rough, and raw textures that are so full of life.
I thought about how the rich and alive nothingness and the omnipresence of sand, sun, and wind got me out of my head and back into my body. Much like when you quit sugar and find that you can suddenly taste and appreciate the more delicate natural flavours and sweetnesses of fresh produce, I felt like I could feel all of my senses in a much more alive way. I worked to embody that physical vitality and sensory delight with interesting textural layers and gestural marks.

I wanted to capture the paradox of the sense of unrefined, uninhibited movement and vitality within these spacious, calm, and peaceful geographies.

And I thought so much about that sacred golden late afternoon light that comes from the sky and makes everyone and everything glow in a way that makes it seem like the light is shining outwards from within each of us. As if, for a short time each day, we are reminded of the spirit and infinite possibility that is in all of us, and all around us.

Original artwork

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Fine art prints

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