10. Giraffe for Becky

Giraffe, 2020 : Acrylic paint, silk and cotton embroidery thread on calico

In early 2020 as lockdown kicked in in South Africa, I found myself living in a house designed to flow with the feminine circles of create and contemplate, destroy and open. A house in the dry savannah of Limpopo Province, parched by rainless late summer and the onset of autumn-winter. Nights woven with hyena song and lion roar, wild dog chorus and the multiplicity of insect harmonics.

In daytime, I would feel the enormous presence of giraffe at my window before I saw them, enthusiastically exploring the star chestnut tree for delights of leaves, fruit and flower, a small tree, unassuming but a mecca for wildlife, its orange and red flowers springing straight from the trunk, not bothering with branch or twig. Giraffe arrested my incessant flow of work and creativity, pulling me out of close range focus to sprawl back into a wider space, a higher spectrum with wide open sensations bristling with peace and liquid pace of one who cannot run away at speed, but lopes, at the mercy of predation but undeniably royal in the wild family with her vast outlook.

Every time I am with giraffe, my humanity is arrested, and I know I must still and open my receptivity, absolutely quiet in the presence of this fascinating being. I know that any breath I take, any move my body makes, any thought my mind gets busy with, will be felt and will disturb the perfect, languid peace giraffe brings.

This gift of the wild to us humans goes largely unnoticed as our brains exist with perpetually attached technology and fear of what we cannot control or predict. As a woman, I feel better equipped to fall back into this uncertainty, to lounge about in the arms of the universe and find safety in what I can only feel, and could never prove.