Chris McClelland managed a large sheep station in the Riverina district near Hay, NSW, Australia. Chris has now retired from this work but continues to lead a very busy life style devoted to his passion of creating fine, unique pencil drawings.
Chris's natural talent was recognised at school where he was awarded numerous Art prizes. His jackerooing days inspired a series of action drawings of buckjumping horses, and while maintaining this interest, later included Polocrosse ponies in action. One such drawing being featured on the front cover of the N.S.W. Polocrosse magazine.
Chris grew up with a love of Africa inherited from his parents. David, his father, spent four years in Africa during World War II attached to the RAF. During the last two years he established and commanded the British Air Force staging post situated at Juba in the Sudan. During this period he organised a local tribesman to carve some wonderful wooden animals especially for his young son [Chris]. These, together with his mother's fascination with Africa, were perhaps the catalyst for his love of wild life.
A more detailed history of Chris’s work, supplied by his wife Margie, appears below.
In 1994 Chris, his wife Margie and daughter Miranda spent three weeks on safari travelling overland through East Africa. While on the safari, Chris concentrated on his video and also kept a detailed diary of their travels. Margie and Miranda shot numerous photographs of the scenery and the wildlife animals including birds. Chris combined his diary and Margie's into book form for his family, then decided to illustrate it as well with his own drawings, thus starting an avalanche of ideas. Chris used the large library of photographs taken by his travelling companions and blended them into his unique style of African drawings.
There has been a great deal of interest shown in the original four drawings that went into a Limited Edition Print Set in April, 1996. The quality of the drawings won for the printers, van Gastels Printers of Adelaide, a Golden Award at the Australian National Printing Awards for 1996 held in Melbourne in March 1997. The award was for ‘one colour printing’ and the entry was voted the finest example in the category. The set was sent to America for the International Printing Awards presentation for 1996 where they won the second highest award in the same category.
The drawing of ‘The River Horses’ won the Catani Drawing Award at the annual exhibition of the Wildlife Art Society of Australasia held in Melbourne 1996. This was the first professional exhibition Chris had entered into.
Chris and his family, including Lochiel, his son, this time, made a return trip to Africa in May, 1996. The trip took them to Lake Kariba, Deception Valley Kalahari, Okavango Delta, the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls and finishing back at Harare. The result of this trip was the drawing Tracks of Destiny. This is a pencil and gouache drawing of the endangered species the Painted Hunting Dogs which the family saw for thirty minutes as they played around the safari truck, between Northgate and Savuti. This drawing took over two hundred hours to complete such is the fine detail that Chris puts into all his work.
Chris also completed his first Safari lodge drawing, Pamuzinda or Royal Meeting Place near Selous out of Harare, at the end of the safari. This appeared in the African Safari Magazine issue no 5 of summer 1997.
In May 1997 Landela Safari asked Chris and Margie to travel around their Safari Lodges in Zimbabwe - Landela at Harare, Gache Gache at Lake Kariba, Sekuti's Drift and Masuwe at Victoria Falls and Chokamella near Hwange National Park. This resulted in Chris undertaking five unique pencil drawing for each lodge to create a collage for each, with each collage requiring about one hundred and thirty hours to complete. Each collage comprises scenes around the lodge and some of the animals that were seen. Sekuti's Drift, also appeared in the African Safari Magazine issue no 6, winter 1997. Stewart Cranswick, part owner of Landela Lodges, was thrilled with the five Zimbabwe drawings. He went into original size prints and postcards of these drawings which he is marketing at the lodges.
In November 1997 Chris released another print, Pride of the Plains, a pencil drawing of a family group of lions. This also appeared in the African Safari Magazine No 7, Summer 1998. Stewart invited Chris to return to Africa in May 1998 to draw his two new Safari Camps in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Rann's and Xudum Camps are on private concessions in the Delta.
Chris continues his extraordinary work with his living drawings being greatly sought after by discerning collectors.
Biography provided by Mrs. Margie McClelland