What could be a more perfect venue for our natural history art group than a garden lovingly created and maintained with both art and nature in mind?
On Sunday 16th March, our group of artists, photographers, botanists, birders and fungi-hunters finally made it through the unusually heavy highway traffic to the haven of Ajoupa Pottery, near Couva. Here, Bunty and Rory O’Connor welcomed us into their home and garden, where we had free reign to explore, and full use of their beautiful guest cottage as a shady base in which to rest between sketches and eat our picnic lunches.
From the cottage we were treated to stunning views of the Northern Range, with El Tucuche clearly visible. Understandably, Maya Patel decided to set up here straight away and painted a lovely watercolour landscape while, one by one, the rest of us were enticed away from the cottage by the numerous pulls of the magical garden, and we soon dispersed. With around 25 people, this was the best-attended art trip so far, yet it was easy to feel like the only inhabitant in the whole garden while getting lost along the maze-like paths and secret spots that make up this beautiful location.
The dense vegetation means it is impossible to view the whole space at once – one has to discover the various nooks, crannies and surprise clearings on foot. It has all the touches of an artist’s garden; examples of Bunty’s pottery and other artwork are tucked amongst the plants like cryptic clues on an elaborate treasure hunt – some fun (such as the giant hands emerging from one of the ponds) and some simply beautiful. What could be better inspiration for a group of natural history artists?
The birders among us were not disappointed either – an abundance of plants in bloom meant that hummingbirds were well represented: copper-rumped, ruby topaz and both little and rufous-breasted hermits flitted about as we painted. Between us we also saw a white-tailed hawk, a long-billed gnatwren, violaceous euphonia, at least 3 species of bat, a skink and several unidentified bird nests.
This trip had it all: from fungi and fig trees to lizards and landscapes. Far too much to fit into just a few hours – we’ll definitely be returning soon with our paintbrushes and binoculars for another visit!