The art of capturing Zimbabwe on canvas

Posted by Anita Froneman on 22 February 2021

In a landscape as vast and unpredictable as Zimbabwe, a wildlife artist would need a strong vision, fiery passion and impeccable skill set to reflect nature in all its glory on something so small as a canvas.

Renowned wildlife artist Larry Norton grew up in Zimbabwe and is now is based in Victoria Falls. Here he immerses himself in nature and captures all he sees and experiences of the wildness of Africa.

Title: Kabakwe

‘A lifetime of expeditions and experience in Africa has yielded unique paintings and drawings of landscapes, wildlife and people of the continent,’ his Facebook page reads.

We spoke to him about living through a pandemic in Zimbabwe, how he settled on the work he does and what it’s like to live in Victoria Falls – and paint it.

What is your favorite animal and landscape to paint?

I really enjoy painting buffalo. They are unpredictable and epitomize African wilderness. Something in them holds memories of my late Dad with whom I had unforgettable experiences of fishing and hunting.

It is difficult to choose just one African landscape. I have loved painting so many, from deserts to mountains, jungles and savannahs, rivers, waterfalls and oceans. Ultimately though, I am drawn back to the place of childhood memories, the Zambezi Valley.

What made you decide to become a wildlife painter specifically?

Title: Place of Angels

I drew from a very young age, from maybe 2 or 3 years old. Having grown up on a farm and spending holidays in wild places, it was only natural that I would gravitate towards African landscapes and wildlife. I also saw the paintings of David Shepherd, and other prominent artists which always inspired me.

How has lockdown impacted you?

Lockdown has been an immense challenge everywhere, however, there are always positives when you try to see them. Victoria Falls is surrounded by National Parks. With the town being quieter, the game has moved back into the edges of town. Sightings, spoor or night sounds of elephant, buffalo, hippo, zebra and the occasional lion and leopard have not been that uncommon. This has been wonderful to see and experience.

Severe unemployment has led to an increase in wildlife poaching but it has been phenomenal to see and to try to contribute to the efforts by this incredible community to support anti-poaching work.

The loss of tourism in Victoria Falls has impacted hugely on people’s lives here but it has been a profound experience to witness their resilience. 

What is it about Zimbabwe that you love most?

Title: Chizarira Rhino and calf

Zimbabwe is blessed with the most incredible people. Despite untold suffering and hardships, they remain happy, generous and very hospitable with such an incredible sense of community and pride.

The country has such magnificent landscapes and untouched wild places. It has been such a privilege to grow up here myself and then to raise my children here too. After all of its turmoil, I am still proud to be able to call this my home.

I feel so fortunate to live in Victoria Falls. As an artist, being able to study the Falls itself is an endless source of inspiration and awe. It is truly one of the natural wonders of the world!

Title: Leopard Pools

Larry’s work and Gallery are situated in the iconic Victoria Falls Hotel. He undertakes commissions and sells fine art prints on canvas as well as a full gift range which is on display in the gallery.

Follow his work on Instagram Larry Norton and Facebook Larry Norton Art

Pictures: Larry Norton

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