Karoo Interlude

Karoo-scape. Watercolour. 500 x 700 mm

When I first moved to Silvermere way back in 1978, I never thought I would get used to the vast treeless nature of the karoo landscape. It was such a dramatic change after all the wonderful woodlands of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) where I grew up. As my father was particularly interested in botanical research and the trees in particular, we travelled extensively around the country to collect leaf specimens of tree varieties for the Herbarium in Salisbury (Harare). It was such an all consuming interest that our whole family became familiar with identifying the tree species with ease. My brother,(John Burrows) was particularly inspired, and has made a career out of this passion for plants. He has written several botanical books and continues to travel widely throughout southern Africa collecting, recording and photographing various plant species for his research.

Karoo hills & windmill.
Karoo hills & windmill. Watercolour. 325 x 235 mm.

However, despite this heritage, the vast, barren and expansive nature of the karoo has inadvertently crept into my heart. It has become one of my most stirring and favourite painting inspirations. I never tire of photographing it as we crisscross the karoo on every available little holiday adventure. We have travelled so many of the little dirt tracks & farm roads to find new vistas and quaint treasures that would make good painting subjects. We avoid the main tar roads as often as possible, and have covered most of the central & eastern Karoo, as well as Namaqualand, the Northern Cape and the Freestate. But there is always something new over the next horizon, and I doubt that my appetite for these beautiful arid landscapes will ever be exhausted.

Karoo farm road
Karoo farm road. Watercolour. 700 x500 mm








, ,



7 responses to “Karoo Interlude”

  1. Jeanette Jobson Avatar

    I love these paintings and can see how the starkness of the landscape has such appeal. Its as if the bones of the earth are showing. The transition between wooded and barren areas does take getting used it. I see the contrast when I travel and its always amazing and inspiring.

    1. Barbara Avatar

      Thanks, Jeanette, I like your ‘bones’ interpretation ! It is amazing when trees disappear it is as though the earth reveals itself in more subtle ways.

  2. Joanna Griffin Avatar

    I particularly find your karoo landscape fascinating. I grew up in Rhodesia and left in l968 returning to USA. (my parents were missionaries). I have settled in N.W. Montana with lovely trees and woodlands and lakes, but it is the eastern part of Montana that matches the karoo almost identically and often makes me think that I am back in Africa, waiting to see a lioness emerging out of the endless plains of grass. I too love the bare bones landscape showing the movement of the land more visibly. I never can photo it and capture it; your photo captures it so well. thank you!

    1. Barbara Avatar

      Thanks for the visit Joanna ! Lovely to meet a fellow ex-Rhodie and a Christian. I am glad you enjoyed the karoo paintings. I also took an excursion through you own wonderful website, and found your pottery both beautiful and vibrant, if I lived next door I would be delighted to own one of your charming pieces. God bless you !!

  3. Sue Pownall Avatar

    I’ve enjoyed catching up with your blog after my holiday, especially these amazing landscapes. Thank you for also sharing tales of your life too.

    1. Barbara Avatar

      Thanks Sue, for popping in. You seem to have squeezed in some stunning sketches despite the heat and humidity of colourful Cuba ! I am sure you are brimming with inspiration from the experience!?

  4. CathyG Avatar

    Your love for this landscape comes through so clearly – it does seem to creep into everyone’s hearts that have lived in the Karoo, my mom’s included. She also later worked for the Bulawayo museum in the 60’s, painting backdrops for the show-cases – many mopane trees and other local species. How interesting to know your family was involved in similiar pursuits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *