Penguin Jubilation – Nirvana
Oil on canvas
91 x 61.5 cm
“The importance of being able to focus on creative community projects, in my case both writing and painting, has made the most enormous difference to my sense of wellbeing.”Amanda Armstrong
Amanda’s Lockdown Project
‘I have two pieces of artwork comprising the beautiful African Penguins who reside in the hidden gem that is the Boulders Beach Penguin Sanctuary in Simon’s Town, South Africa. The penguins sanctuary is protected from wind and large waves by ancient granite boulders. Sadly, these beloved creatures are under threat from loss of habitat, declining fish stocks and human encroachment.
The first piece of artwork is an oil painting of the penguins in their Eden, which I hope to sell to raise funds for the sanctuary.
The second piece of artwork is a story I created of these same penguins and what they got up to during the lockdown in South Africa, which I illustrated. The idea for the story came about because a niece of mine, who works for an NGO in the regions, asked me to read a story via social media for disadvantaged children who were without access to books.
At [the start of lockdown], it was a delight to be able to spend quiet time at home with my husband and our cats; to decompress and enjoy music, books, painting, gardening and heath walks. Whilst we were both able to work from home, the pandemic and the global crises have leant a surreal quality to our days. However, creative pursuits helped us to remain upbeat and optimistic.
The importance of being able to focus on creative community projects, in my case both writing and painting, has made the most enormous difference to my sense of wellbeing.
I have been able to used my creativity to develop community projects; to raise funds and awareness for the Boulders Beach Penguin Sanctuary, and create stories for electronic access for disadvantaged children in South Africa without access to books.’
Three Penguins and a Cappuccino
Story and illustrations by Amanda Armstrong
‘The day dawned bright and clear on Boulders Beach, the famous African Penguin Sanctuary in the rustic town of Simon’s Town in the Cape in South Africa. I happen to be the beautiful penguin called Buhle, which literally means ‘beauty’ in the Xhosa language; and there I was, happily frolicking in the surf amongst the giant boulders with my penguin mate, Bhatandwa, which means ‘beloved’ in Xhosa, and my English penguin cousin, Hermione.’
‘We were in seventh heaven because our beach, for the first time, was not full of the usual tourists who flooded into the sanctuary to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at us from close quarters. The beach was all ours! This was because the entire world was under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic was also the reason for Hermione’s presence; she had missed the last flight bound for London, before flights were grounded. She lived in the penguin enclosure at London Zoo, which Hermione says is one of the best loved and oldest zoos in all of England. So Hermione, like us, was used to being ogled by tourists.’
‘Hermione was missing her daily cappuccino fix, which Sebastian, her favourite zoo attendant, brought her every morning. Bathandwa and I decided to stroll through Simon’s Town’s now deserted streets to No. 30 St. George Street, to visit Delessi Espresso Bar and treat Hermione to a cappuccino. Hermione said she had never tasted a more delicious cappuccino; not even the great Norwegian barista Tim Wendelboe, could compete. She even bought a beautiful flowing kaftan to take back with her to London, as Delessi’s doubled as a beachwear boutique.’
‘A happy Hermione, Bathandwa and I made such a merry party on our way back to our beautiful beach home. We decided to make visiting the espresso bar a daily event – as long as the humans stayed away! Then we all fell asleep on the soft beach sand with smiles on our faces.’
Text and images © Amanda Armstrong