Local artist and conservationist Duncan Butchart recently launched a series of limited edition prints that feature some of Hermanus’ most iconic coastal birds: the oystercatchers, gulls and plovers that we see along our shores every day.

Local artist, writer and conservationist, Duncan Butchart in his studio in Vermont

In a departure from traditional wildlife art, in which realism is paramount, Butchart’s new works are highly stylised, with more emphasis on form and composition, than attention to detail. In the artist’s own words: “These paintings have more in common with pop art than they do with most of the bird paintings seen in books and natural history museums.”

Duncan began drawing and painting as a young boy – with birds being his main topic and field of interest. Working in pencil, ink and watercolours, his illustrations have been published in nature journals, ornithological publications, field guides and books, including The Vultures of Africa, featuring 12 colour plates and over 100 pencil drawings. These artworks were exhibited at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg. Duncan has also participated in other group exhibitions of wildlife art and has for many years been active in conservation and research work. He has enjoyed a varied career as an artist, author, photographer, ecotourism consultant, publication designer and ecological project coordinator.

Duncan has always searched for fresh ways in which to depict the winged creatures that captivate him. Inspired by Belgian artist Hergé – who created the iconic ‘Adventures of Tintin’ series – he now works in the same ‘lingé claire’ (clear line) style to create strikingly simple images that nevertheless convey the true form, beauty and movement of his subjects. This ability comes from his years of observing, sketching, illustrating, photographing and writing about birds in Africa, and on five other continents. From owls to oystercatchers, and from detail to simplicity, Duncan’s depiction of birds has been a journey of discovery and change.

These vibrant and refreshing works are perfectly suited to those looking to create a seaside or beach theme when decorating spaces and can be viewed and purchased at Walker Bay Modern Art Gallery. Printed on acid-free cotton-rag paper (40x40cm) with archival inks, each giclee print is numbered and signed by the artist.

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