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Gorillas

Seven of fourteen gorilla portraits for John Aspinall, some on show at Port Lympne, Kent.

One of the most unusual and interesting commissions that I have had was to paint portraits of gorillas for John Aspinall. They are built differently from any other animals, so I began by studying the skeleton and muscles. I was surprised by the variety of expression and personalities that were evident on closer acquaintance.

Djoum (detail)

Djoum (detail)

 

Djoum

Kibobo

Djoum
Djoum, male. Very much the patriarch and on his dignity. Having come to watch me drawing once, he completely ignored me after that.

Kibobo
Kibobo, male. He has rather a philosophical expression I think. The only male gorilla that the females will allow to handle the babies.

 

Kibobo (detail)

Kibobo (detail)

 

Bamenda

Bitam

Bamenda
Bamenda, female. Born at Jersey zoo. Hand reared.

Bitam
Bitam, male. Though the soul of good nature, he is the only adult male the keepers do not go in with as he has never learned to tone down his play . John Aspinall told me that the gorillas use only one tenth of their strength when reacting with humans.

 

Jomie (detail)

Jomie (detail)
Jomie, male. Djoum's first offspring. Notice the lack of a "crest" which comes with age. It is a bony ridge across the top of the skull to which the muscles of the jaw are anchored.

 

Djala

Mouila & Boulas

Djala
Djala, young male. Saved from certain death in the Congo. Irrepressible behaviour, rather a joker. Once, he found a large lump of chalk and threw it at me.

Mouila & Boulas
Mouila, female. A very stable female, but not a particularly good mother.
Boulas, young male. First son of Mouila and Bitam. Very assertive character.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Valerie Baines