Sculpture of a Bongo bull
15 in Edition
W: 11″ H: 15″ L: 15″
27cm x 38cm x 38cm
Bronze Africa ‘Jungle Ghost’
When I was asked by my friend Pemble Davis to sculpt a Bongo I was out of my depth as I had never seen one in the flesh. I needed to set about finding ways and means to see this animal alive. My first encounter was in the Houston Zoo where the animal did not move around much. I then visited Rudi Holly in Florida who, with his father, has a breeding station for a range of wildlife from all over the world. I was really delighted to see what I need to feel and got my first look at what are essentially wild Bongo although contained in paddocks. Rudy is now shipping these animals back to the Aberdares in Kenya.
John’s art is nothing short of amazing. As a hunter he developed an eye for the total symmetry of an animal and how they move and react in the bush. Something not every artist has mastered… but John has, in spades. I have five of his pieces and each of them conveys a place in time where I, too, experienced that moment.
I am lucky enough to posses two Tolmay bronzes – Buffalo and Bongo – and also to have had the privilege of dealing with and getting to know John Tolmay and his lovely wife, Di. I have collected African art for the last 40 years, both paintings and bronzes. I searched for a Buffalo bronze for many, many years before finding the one I bought from John – two old bulls at a waterhole with cranes on either side – but could not find one that accurately portrayed these magnificent, imposing, bus-bodied beasts. What distinguished John’s art from others is that, as a professional African guide for many years, he has lived side by side with Africa’s wildlife. Only someone who has done this can, I believe, accurately portray both the visual aspects and essence of these animals. John does that.
My wife and I first met John and Dinah Tolmay four years ago at an art exhibit in Charleston, SC. We were attracted to the artistry and realism of John’s work and bought one of his beautiful creations. We also discovered the Tolmays share our dedication to wildlife conservation and other areas of interest. Since then we have visited the Tolmay’s home and studio, and they have visited ours, and we consider them among our most interesting friends. We also consider ourselves fortunate to own two of John’s sublime creations.
I just want you to know how much I enjoy my bronze Warthog and Bongo. You not only captured the anatomy perfectly but also the personality of the critter as well. Betty and I have been to Africa several times and have a lot of trophies. They certainly are beautiful, but do not present the animals like your Bronze’s do. I looked long and hard at your Buffalo. They are indeed superb. I also enjoyed my visits with both you and Di and Betty and I hope to see you soon. Please keep the emails coming so I know what might be coming next. Thank you again.
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