MAN’S DOMINION SERIES

Environmental Destruction

“These recent paintings illustrate one of my ways of dealing with the appalling destruction of environments and wild life that humans are presently causing. It is not new. It has been happening throughout history.”

The Assyrians wrote of the many thousands of Asiatic Lions they hunted to prove their prowess. That hunt continued through the following 2700 years. Now fewer than 200 remain in the Gir Forest in India and are expected to be extinct in the wild in 20 years.
The last African Cape Lion was Killed in 1865 and the last of the largest lion, Panthera leo leo, or Barbary Lion of Roman Coliseum fame was shot in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco in 1922.

The Romans affected many areas around the Mediterranean through intensive agriculture and more recently the Europeans exterminated most of their larger animals by felling the forests including those that covered most of the British Isles. The last British wolf was killed in Scotland about 1750.

In 1805 in America Lewis and Clark reported unending herds of Elk, Antelope and Bison, with the accompanying predators and smaller animals, covering the vast western prairies. By 1880 over 75 million American Buffalo hides had been traded leaving only 300 animals alive. The wolves, grizzlies, Elk antelope and hundreds of millions of other animals had also gone. The North American grizzly, which is now confined to areas of the Pacific Northwest, used to roam over most of Western North America as far south as Texas and Mexico.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic the European Bison or Wisent was reduced to a total of 6 animals in 1923. Fortunately a society was formed to breed from these remaining animals and save them from extinction.

However even that destruction has seen a horrific acceleration in the past fifty years. In the earth’s last wilderness areas many animal species that numbered in the hundreds of thousands, or millions, at the beginning of the twentieth century can now be counted in the dozens world wide. Lesser species become extinct every day. It is probable that we have reduced larger animal numbers worldwide by 98% over the past one hundred years.

Zoologists believe that approximately 4,300 species of mammals currently exist within a framework of between 3 and 10 million life forms. It is thought that over the normal span of time 10 species of life form became extinct every 1000 years.

It is believed that we are presently loosing up to 100 species of plants and animals a day and that within the next 30 years most of the larger species will be extinct in the wild.

“There have, of course, been a number of extinction spasms in the past: the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and the giant mammals at the end of the Ice Age 15,000 -10,000 years ago, are examples. Whatever the catastrophes that befell and exterminated those species, there is no question what catastrophe is the cause of the present extinctions. Humankind is the catastrophe. We are the catastrophe that is presently destroying our Earth and our home.”

AESACUS CARVED
Ornithoptera Aesacus

2006
Acrylic on birch ply & bass wood
h 24″ x w 38″
61cm x 96.5 cm

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This is one of the least known of the Birdwings. It is found only on Obi Island, in the Indonesian Moluccas. Obi has been closed to outside travel for a great many years and few examples are in collections. Little is known of the numbers of this butterfly but it is assumed that the Aesacus is fairly secure, as no logging has been allowed on the island.

Robert Graves says that Aesacus was a son of Arisbe, the first wife of Priam, King of Troy. When Aesacus great love Asterope, the daughter of a river, died he tried repeatedly to kill himself by jumping into the sea from a high cliff. Finally the Gods took pity on him and turned him into a diving bird “thus allowing him to indulge his passion with greater decency”.

  • The males have a wingspan up to 14 cm.
  • The females have a wingspan up to 19 cm.

It is classified as indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’.

CHIMAERA FLAVIDOR CARVED
Ornithoptera Chimaera
Chimaera Birdwing

2005
Acrylic on birch ply & bass wood
h 24″ x w 38″
61 cm x 96.5 cm

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  • This butterfly flies in damp and cool gorges in the highland rainforests of northeastern Papua New Guinea and a few small locations in Irian Jaya.
  • It frequents the rainforest canopy and breeds on the Aristolochia Vine.
  • The male forewings are iridescent gold and green and very beautiful.
  • It was first identified in 1903.

The markings are very similar to the Ornithoptera species Paradisea, Tithonus and to a lesser extent Rothschildi except that the wing shapes in each are very different. Some ornithologists refer to these four species as ‘Schonbergia’ as distinct from Ornithoptera. In ‘The Greek Myths’ Robert Graves describes the Chimaera as “a fire-breathing she-monster with a lion’s head, goat’s body, and serpent’s tail”.

Webster’s also says ‘it pertains to an impossible or foolish fancy’. Possibly this species was seen only fleetingly. There are 2 subspecies.

  • The males have a wingspan of up to 16 cm.
  • The females have a wingspan of up to 19 cm.

Ornithoptera chimaera is classified as Indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’.

ROTHSCHILDI CARVED
Ornithoptera Rothschildi
Rothschild’s Birdwing

2005
Acrylic on birch ply & bass wood
h 24″ x w 38″
61 cm x 96.5 cm

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Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild financed many of the late Victorian scientific expeditions to the Australasia region and this butterfly was named by its discoverer, Alfred Stewart Meek, for his benefactor.

Rothschild’s Birdwing has the smallest distribution of any birdwing butterfly and is found in northeastern Iran Jaya in sunny, wind sheltered, ravines above the 2000 meter level.

  • The males have a wingspan of up to 13 cm.
  • The females have a wingspan of up to 15.5 cm.

It is classified as indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’.

PRIAMUS CARVED
Onithoptera Priamus
Priam’s Birdwing

2004
Acrylic on birch ply & bass wood
h 24″ x w 38″
61 cm x 96.5 cm

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This is the most widespread of the birdwings having 14 identified subspecies, which range through many different habitats. They are found in New Guinea, the islands East to the Solomons and northeast Queensland. The subspecies tend to be localized and are usually named for the island or area in which they are found. They vary in size but are nearly all green to blue green with a black bar across the forewing. Priamus Celestei is turquoise blue, but the Priamus Urvillianus from New Britain and the Solomon Islands is uniquely dark blue and black.

Priamus was fist described in 1717 although no examples were captured until 1758. It is named after Priam, King of Troy and father of Hector, Paris and Cassandra.

The subspecies vary considerably in size:

  • The males have wingspans from 8cm up to 17 cm.
  • The females have wingspans from 11 cm up to 20 cm.

It is classified as indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’.

AESACUS AZURE AND GOLD
Ornithoptera Aesacus

2003
Acrylic on birch ply & yellow cedar
h 38.5” w 61”
98cm x 155cm

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This is one of the least known of the Birdwings. It is found only on Obi Island, in the Indonesian Moluccas. Obi has been closed to outside travel for a great many years and few examples are in collections. Little is known of the numbers of this butterfly but it is assumed that the Aesacus is fairly secure, as no logging has been allowed on the island.

Robert Graves says that Aesacus was a son of Arisbe, the first wife of Priam, King of Troy. When Aesacus great love Asterope, the daughter of a river, died he tried repeatedly to kill himself by jumping into the sea from a high cliff. Finally the Gods took pity on him and turned him into a diving bird “thus allowing him to indulge his passion with greater decency”.

  • The males have a wingspan up to 14 cm.
  • The females have a wingspan up to 19 cm.

It is classified as indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’.

CANOPY

2004
Acrylic on canvas with recycled redwood
h 59” w 81”
150cm x 206cm

THE CANOPY

2001
Acrylic on birch ply & saw-chain
h 70” w 48’
178 cm x 122

THE FOREST

2000
Acrylic on birch ply & saw-chain
h 70” w 48’
178 cm x 122

THE SAPULUT RIVER

1998
Acrylic on birch ply & saw-chain
h 70” w 48’
178 cm x 122

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY:
Ornithoptera Paradisea & O. VICTORIAE

2001
Acrylic on birch ply
h33” w 24”
84cm x 61cm

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY:
Papilio Ulysses & P. Autolycos

1999
Acrylic on birch ply
h33” w 24”
84cm x 61cm

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY:
Papilio Memnon & P. Polymnestor

1999
Acrylic on birch ply
h33” w 24”
84cm x 61cm

BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY:
Ornithoptera Victoriae
Queen Victoria’s Birdwing

1998
Acrylic on birch ply
h33” w 24”
84cm x 61cm

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These butterflies are restricted to the Solomon Islands where there are seven subspecies most of which are named after the specific island on which they are found. The males have oval shaped wings with the rear wings being very elongated and wrinkled. The most similar species is the Queen Alexandria’s Birdwing.

They fly high in the canopy, and in 1885 when a naturalist with a Royal Navy expedition was keen to capture one, a Royal Marine shot one down with a shotgun. That very butterfly is still part of the collection in the Natural History Museum, London.

  • The males have a wingspan of up to 16 cm.
  • The females have a wingspan of up to 20 cm.

It is classified as indeterminate in the ‘Red Data Book of Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World’.

IT WAS GOOD:
Graphium Streemanni & G. Weikei

1999
Acrylic on birch ply
h 49” w 34”
124.5cm x 86.5cm