Davina Dobie is back in Kenya after 10 years of travelling, during which time she lived in South Africa and New York. She moved to New York in 2011 for 3 summers after 7 years in SA.
Back to painting in her homeland, she is engaged primarily in commissions, with orders recently varying between large beach scenes, nudes and arid bush scapes.
Landscapes and nature are predominant features in her work which is often inspired by Salvador Dali.
Born in Sorengo, Switzerland, her father David Dobie emigrated to East Africa in 1948 to start the franchise for Mercedes Benz. Her mother, Rex Dobie moved to Kenya in the ‘50’s. She has a twin brother and a younger sister.
“When I was a child, all I wished for was my own horse. This was not to be, yet the details and nature of this beautiful animal became something of an obsession with me...I dream't and drew horses incessantly. Eventually, nature and the rest of the animal kingdom including insects, reptiles and mammals also determined space on my canvases”.
Raised in Kenya, she shared her upbringing with warthogs, bush babies, touracos, snakes, mongeese, crocodiles and a cheetah along with the usual dogs, cats, rats and spiders. Adventures in Africa whilst growing up planted an abiding love and appreciation of the bush, nature and wide open spaces in her heart.
At the age of 13, she went to boarding school at Heathfield, Ascot Berkshire in the U.K. In 1976 Davina attended the prestigious Academie Charpentier in Paris for 4 years, becoming fluent in French and receiving a diploma in Commercial Art.
In 1983 she spent 9 months working with Columbia Pictures on the film 'Sheena Queen of the Jungle', filmed in Kenya. An extraordinary array of wild animals were flown in from California for the film, including an elephant, rhino, leopard and chimps.
In true Hollywood style, 8 horses plus a foal were also brought in to Kenya and Davina was commissioned to paint them with Mexican hair dye, transforming them into a well-trained ‘herd of zebras’. Besides working with the animals, she was also the stunt double for the star Tanya Roberts in the movie riding her painted horses, one of which she subsequently bought off Columbia Pictures.
Standing underneath Queen’s Falls, stark naked in the Aberdare Mountains, pretending to enjoy a ‘royal wash’ repeated 9 times, as the Director zoomed in on her makeup caked nudity from across the waters on a closed set, proved testing !..
A quote from the California critics in the newspaper when the film hit the main screen...”There was Tanya Roberts, galloping, galloping across the African plains on her zebra with its tied on horse’s tail....”
In 1985, she moved to New York for 3 years beginning with a furniture antiquing course, painting large murals for restaurants, clubs and private homes and ending her New York experience with an exhibition of intricately painted, heavily varnished toilet seats.
The exhibition 'Loocidity,' held at the Trompe L'Oiel Gallery proved different and fun.
Drawn back to Africa, Davina returned home and bought a property at the foot of the Ngong Hills in Karen, 30 kilometers outside Nairobi. She married and has 2 children.
She continued to paint commissions and held a few exhibitions in Kenya.
Another Piper Cheyenne aircraft belonging to an American lady pilot friend was painted in the United States with an array of 980 pink champagne bubbles each painted 7 times starting on the nose of the plane with half inch diameter bubbles, ending at the tail with 24 inch bubbles. The plane aptly named ‘Bubbles’ was a girl!
She moved down to South Africa in 2005 to be near her children and held a couple of solo exhibits. In 2009, she was commissioned to paint a large panorama of the city of Port Elizabeth which she completed in 2 months.
Davina moved to New York Hamptons for the summer of 2011. Her work is featured on the front cover of the October issue of Dan's Papers for the Columbus Day weekend in New York
Prior to moving to New York, Davina dreamt of a house on the beach with a ski boat parked in front. She found the house. She bought the boat and trailer off the side of the road in Southampton for $400 and transformed it into another creature... a Great White Shark... (Mama Kipapa, Swahili for mother Shark )
On her return to New York for the summer of 2013, Davina started a campaign against the deplorable killing of animals going on in her homeland. She was amazed that so few New Yorkers knew of the ongoing carnage of Elephant and Rhino. As a result, she put her passion and energy into bringing awareness of the slaughter to that part of the world during her last summer there.
The event was held at the famous Guild Hall in Easthampton, NY, with John Hemingway’s documentary film “Battle for the Elephants” hosted alongside Donna Karan. Before her departure, Davina and many thousands marched through the streets of Manhattan spreading the word about the Elephants.
Efforts towards elephant awareness kindly commended by Hillary Clinton:
I’m thrilled to be back home where my heart is...
Art is a way of life for me - a comfort and a companion in an often tumultuous world. I feel so blessed to have this gift ! A gift of expression. A love from the heart.
Painting is unique in all its forms. It's interpretive, a way of translating the world within me and the world around me. A way to be able to identify and make apparent the smallest details that may otherwise go unnoticed. To make the impossible possible in my surrealistic paintings.
My desire is to render a creation to a client with even the finest detail they would like incorporated, to personalize the artwork for them...be it sunglasses, a pet, a fetish, a wristwatch...whatever !
~ Leave room for the unexpected ~