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Images of Human Rights
Clause 16: Environment

'Earth - Mother - Earth'
540 x 360, woodcut and wood engraving
Dominic Thorburn

(detail - click for full image - 88K GIF)
The clause defines the right of individuals to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being and the right to have the environment protected from pollution and ecological degradation, for the benefit of present and future generations. Dominic Thorburn's print consists of two separate blocks, a wood cut serving as a framing background for a small wood engraving inserted in its centre. The wood cut simply reflects the natural grain of the wood, clearly relating to trees and nature, underscored by the slightly greenish ink used for printing this part. The rectangular central image depicts a joyful Mother Earth, symbolised by the female nude in the foreground, in an idyllic landscape setting. Growing on the edge of the pond are two cycads , an ancient indigenous species of tree, now endangered by careless exploitation. A giant kingfisher, a pair of ducks and the fish further indicate the beauty and variety of South Africa's precious and vulnerable flora and fauna. The rhinocerus in the background is symbolic and a reminder of the importance of conservation.

Born in 1958 in Rondebosch, Cape Town, Dominic Thorburn received a Masters of Fine Art Degree from Rhodes University and trained as a printer at the Tamrind Intitute, University of New Mexico, USA. He has received numerous bursaries and awards and has exhibited widely in South Africa and overseas. Dominic Thorburn is presently Senior Lecturer and Head of the Graphic Art Section at Rhodes University School of Fine Art. He has been involved in a number of research projects and is most recently experimenting in the field of digital media.

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