From this arid floor and deserted floodplain, the bones of the camel thorn acacias remain – 500 to 600 year old skeletons. Captured and preserved.
Sun-bleached and charred, reminding us of the unpredictability of this wild, beautiful place. I stood there in the wind – the only interrupter of the ineffable silence.
I could have been in space, on another planet, but it was the heart of the Namib Nakluft desert…Sossusvlei. As I stood looking across, what words would I use to describe this place? Sand – bones – skeletons – sun and wind, and did I say sand?… in a palette unlike any I had seen….ivory white, but not quite; subtle purple-greens, veils of apricot, pale orange and red…a haze of lavender in the distance. It had an eeriness to it, a mysterious beauty…like this vast sand sea held secrets.
Encrusted with lichens and fine gravel, the desert floor looks barren and dead, but these organisms are delicate and alive. One tire track can last for years; possibly permanently marring the sensitive plain. Some of this valley is flooded…maybe twice every decade with rain enough to make the Tsachaub River live up to its name, but the camel thorn skeletons stand as witness to the lack of consistent life-giving water.
The massive dunes soar above the dry floodplain, sculpted and shaped by the constant winds that cross each other – blowing from the arid east and west from the cool Atlantic. These moving red mountains can be anywhere from 75 to 1,150 feet tall. The cool currents that arrive from the Atlantic, 35 miles to the west, bring just enough fog to give the plants and insects and animals, that have adapted, the water they need to survive.
Hike – slog – to the top of the dunes and it’s me and time…me and the sky…and the wind and silence. I commit as much as I can to memory; to sensation…captured and preserved…perhaps.
This painting, “Namib Uplift” that I completed this summer, is part of the ongoing installation in the Storefronts Seattle Installation in the South Lake Union neighborhood. If you’re in the Seattle area, you can see it until November 8th, 2016. (two more weeks )! My art installation is on the corner of John St and Boren Ave N. 1026 John St, to be exact.
The paintings in the installation are available. Please contact me if you are interested or have comments or questions!
©Teri Capp – All Rights Reserved