Artists in residence – Africa

April 30th 2024  |   Interviews, Experiences, Miscellaneous  |  by   Katy Duncan
Artists in residence – Africa

The diverse natural beauty of Africa offers the perfect canvas to create incredible, inspiring, and captivating artwork, with vast desert landscapes and lush rainforests, mighty mountains and immense open plains, lion, leopard, zebra, and elephant; the scenery and wildlife encounters are bountiful and varied. We asked some of our favourite artists to share their experiences of life as an artist in residence in Africa.

From safari to studio


Simon Stevenson and art

Simon (on the right) at Elewana Tortilis Camp with general manager Graeme and Tim the super tusker who sadly died in 2020.

Why did you become an artist?

I was born in the bush on the foothills of the world’s highest free standing volcano Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. From a very early age, I would along with our gardener’s son Edi, explore and track the abundance of wild animals that surrounded our colonial home. We were frequently charged at by grumpy animals clearly fed up with being followed by two children, so we would often have to take refuge in the nearest trees. To try and remember the adventures we had with these beautiful animals, I found that I could express myself through my art. Self-taught, I was able to experiment with various techniques, from painting in Tea and Ochre, sketching in chalk and charcoal to more recently using pastels.

Simons house

View of Mount Kilimanjaro from Simon’s family house

What is it about Africa that appeals?

Africa in some ways is indescribable, to me it is the Garden of Eden. There’s an expression that I love which makes me think of my beloved Africa… “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the places and moments that take our breath away.”

How did you decide which lodges and camps to base yourself at?

There are a number of lodges that we have visited throughout Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia to name but a few. However, the one that clearly stands out in my mind is Elewana Tortilis Camp and Amboseli in Kenya. Not only do I have my art displayed here but it is beautifully run and has stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is surrounded by wildlife and also has some of the world’s largest tusked elephants in close proximity. It was here that I was fortunate to see and study ‘Craig’ the world’s largest tusker, resulting in an image that I was able to sketch of him.

Craig the giant tusker, Elewana Tortilis Camp

Craig the giant tusker, Elewana Tortilis Camp

Which camps and lodges can we see your artwork?

Elewana Tortilis Camp Amboseli, Kenya
Leopard Hills Sabi Sands, South Africa

How can people get hold of your artwork?

My art can be seen on my website www.abrushwithafrica.com I have a studio/gallery based in Shropshire, where many of my paintings and sketches can be seen and purchased. Details of which are on the website.



Annabel Pope artist

Why did you become an artist?

I have always been interested in wildlife, growing up on a farm in Norfolk. I learnt so much from my father, a bird enthusiast as well as a farmer. I was very lucky to be introduced to Africa as a child and the excitement of the bush has never left me. I did Fine Art at O and A level and then a degree in Environmental Biology and Fine Art at Oxford Brookes. My first Exhibition was in 1998.  I then got a PGCE and taught art in a Secondary School for a few years before going ‘solo’ at age 28. I’ve visited Africa almost every year since 1994 and Kenya is the country I’ve visited most frequently.

What is it about Africa that appeals?

Since my first visit to Africa, it has felt like a spiritual home; it’s hard to describe the feeling, but it has something to do with the wide open plains, being amongst animals in their natural habitat, the joy of the sunsets and sunrises, the feeling of warmth and the intoxicating smells when tracking in the bush.

How did you decide which lodges and camps to base yourself at?

In my early twenties, I had a very lucky breakthrough when I got a job working for Rose and Tony Dyer whose business bordered Borana. I helped with horses that were used for riding safaris. During my time there I made many connections with other lodges – these proved to be the early seeds that grew into the strong network that I’m now lucky to have.

leopard print - annabel pope

Which camps and lodges can we see your artwork?

My work is displayed at Sosian Lodge, Borana Lodge, Lewa Wilderness, Laikipia Wilderness and Offbeat Ndoto. They have a selection of watercolours, mixed media, and oil prints on canvas. I’ve also created hardback photo books for the lodges that help introduce me and my work to guests.

Porcupine - annabel pope

Porcupine – Sosian Lodge

How can people get hold of your artwork?

I try to do one major exhibition each year and then I might do a smaller local event now and then. I aim to do a London exhibition every three or four years. A lot of sales are derived directly from personal contacts and introductions, both commissions and purchases of existing material. My website has recently been improved and is now a very effective way of seeing my work. I’m also active on Instagram.

Website: https://www.annabelpope.com/
Instagram: @anabelpopeart



Julia Cassels

 Why did you become an artist?

Having painted since I was a small child, I am now lucky enough to be known as a leading wildlife artist. I specialise in watercolour and ink, and more recently sculpture and oils.

Having initially worked in the safari world in Zambia’s beautiful Luangwa Valley, together with my husband we enjoyed many more in Zambia, before moving north to Tanzania. It was this incredible decade that undoubtedly formed the foundation of my work and continues to inspire me today.

My paintings are fluid and spontaneous, as I enjoy trying to capture a sense of movement. I like to think my distinctive style displays an understanding of the colour and rhythm in my subjects, as well as a true knowledge of the bush.

I have been quoted for my ink work as “taking an old, traditional medium and using it with a contemporary twist to remarkable effect”…. and I absolutely love this!

What is it about Africa that appeals?

I seized the opportunity to work with the Maasai in the heart of Kenya’s Rift Valley in my early 20s. There I found the wonderous rhythms, shapes, and colours captivating, forming a lasting impression, and sparking a lifelong love for Africa and its wildlife.

Lionness sisters - Julia cassels

How did you decide which lodges and camps to base yourself at?

A couple of years ago I won an International Wildlife Art Exhibition with the amazing winning prize of spending two weeks as an Artist in Residence with Game Rangers International in Zambia. It was an incredible honour and walking out with the orphaned elephants every day into the bush, was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

To be able to use my art for wildlife conservation is not only important but an integral part of my work. It is a cause which is close to my heart and it has become a privilege to use my work to raise funds and awareness in this way.

Next year I have been offered the most remarkable opportunity of an Artist Residency in Kenya. I will be with Safari Series in the Lolldaiga Hills offering a three month stay living in their conservancy. Having applied, I was thrilled to be accepted for the first three months of 2025. I very much feel as if my artistic journey has gone full circle as it was in Kenya where my love for painting wildlife began. They have even built an “Artist’s House” at the lodge – home for three months!

Massai walking - Julia Cassels

Which camps and lodges can we see your artwork?

In Africa, my work is mostly in private collections rather than lodges or camps. At the time while we were living there, I was mainly painting in watercolours which are not as durable or as lightfast as oils. However, that might be all about to change!

How can people get hold of your artwork?

My work can be found at Cricket Fine Art, in both their London and Hungerford galleries, the Wykeham Gallery, Stockbridge, Hampshire, the Frame Gallery, Odiham, Hampshire and with Fillingdon Fine Art, Nr High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

I am exhibiting in a show called “Journey”, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk  3rd – 7th May, hosted and organised by Art for Cure, with all proceeds going to provide grant funding for leading breast cancer research in the UK.

My next solo show will be with Cricket Fine Art in London in November 2025 following my Art Residency in Kenya.

I also run art workshops and courses and lead painting holidays in the UK and abroad.

website: https://www.juliacassels.com/
Instagram: @Juliacasselsart

What next? 

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday encompassing any of the stays and trips mentioned here. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice  from family and beach holidays to city escapes and riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally, we make suggestions. If this is your first time in Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.




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