Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Meeting report - Laura Batchelor's dioramas

Laura was contacted by Nico van Rooyen Taxidermy to paint dioramas for the "Action Africa" section of a natural history museum they were providing animal installations for - Museum Satwa, Batu, East Java, Indonesia. 
The museum, mini zoo and hotel accommodation was funded by a local Batu philanthropist whose community would benefit from an educational museum. African animals formed a significant part of the exhibitions, probably because of the species diversity found here. It took only six months to complete the museum. The African elephant statues on the outside of the museum were larger than life and were constructed by local artists from photographic reference - they had probably never had the opportunity to see a real African elephant!
Laura regaled us with stories of her experiences of working on a very busy construction site, working on dioramas that were not fully curved but angled, and the huge pressure to complete the job within thirty days, as this was the maximum time for which visas are issued. Adding to the tension at the end was the fact that the very friendly and hospitable hosts insisted on taking them on a tour to the volcanic hot baths a distance away - but these proved very helpdul in relaxing aching shoulders! But she survived to tell the tale and we so enjoyed listening to her story. To those of you who missed Laura's talk - eat your hearts out.

Report by Angie Hill

Laura painted the dioramas in November of 2009.

Click on images to enlarge them.

Batu, Java arrival - Museum Satwa taking shape - the view on arrival
Hippo pool: completed with glass in place. 15 m wall length.

3rd Diorama, also 15m. My site office!

Day 1 - starting on the Buffalo diorama - 11 m long. Step one was to dot in horizon line and hills. one had to step back and assess illusion of perspective from various angles as back wall of diorama was flattened.

End day 3 : We had just over a week to complete each diorama. The headgear became necessary when painting ceiling but one got totally spattered all the same.

Dio 1: Right hand side
Foreground artists creating a mud bank.
Dio complete: 
After we returned home the mounted animals were installed. 
Thomas works with Katharina at Nico van Rooyen taxidermy in Pretoria