Living in the Cape Floristic Region, I am keenly aware of our rich natural heritage and the threats to its integrity. Not only is this area a hotspot of biodiversity, but Cape Town has been named the extinction capital of the world. Since this biome is diverse not only in terms of species content, but also geographically, some species exist exclusively in highly localised areas. If a small section of land is developed, unique habitat is destroyed and entire species may be lost. It’s for this reason that even relatively small scale urban development is such a threat to biodiversity in this area. In my lifetime I have seen enormous growth and development in my once small home town of Somerset West. Vast areas of open space have been developed and it seems this trend is just speeding up. In the process I have seen plots formerly bursting with rich indigenous flora covered with bricks and tar. If swift action is not taken we will lose all but a few bits of land that have protected status and possibly see more species go extinct within our lifetimes.
I view species as I do individual lifeforms; as beings with an inalienable right to exist and thrive. I see their extinction at the hand of man as a tragedy that is fully avoidable. Not only are we in danger of losing irreplaceable parts of our natural heritage, our immediate environment is becoming a less diverse, more boring place.
For this exhibition I have chosen to paint a few of the endangered plants that occur in my surrounds. They are but a tiny representation of the many treasures that might be forever lost if we continue to live without regard for the natural world.
Chris Lochner resides in the Helderberg, surrounded by the inspiring diversity of the Cape Floristic Region. After completing a BSc at the University of Stellenbosch in 2011 he became interested in the field of scientific illustration, and received tuition from with renowned botanical artist, Vicki Thomas. He has been exhibiting since 2015 and taken part in group-exhibitions at Kirstenbosch and the Irma Stern Museum.
Watercolour is his main medium and he has grown to most enjoy painting dry plant matter with its accentuated forms and limited, but vibrant, palette.
“Traditional botanical art focuses on the defining characteristics of plants. I prefer to depict subject matter with all its inherent flaws and to sometimes change scale in order to reveal detail that is otherwise hidden. The interplay of order and chaos, complexity and simplicity, makes organic matter very appealing and the recognition of beauty in its transience and imperfection informs my work. I hope that my paintings will inspire viewers to look closer and appreciate these qualities in plants and all parts of nature, animate and inanimate.”