Further Why(s)

March 22nd, 2015
Virginia McKenna playing Joy Adams with a lioness in the movie "Born Free."

Virginia McKenna playing Joy Adams with a lioness in the movie “Born Free.”

Continuing on with why I am so obsessed with animals and capturing their spirit in my work — I started to think about the steady diet of nature films that I was fed as a child. “Born Free” occupies a big space in my mind, although I was just three-years old when it came out in 1966 and this was, of course, the pre-DVD era. I doubt my parents took me to see it in when it first came out but it was also turned into a TV series. According to Wikipedia, “In 1974, a thirteen-episode American television series was broadcast by NBC, entitled Born Free, starring Diana Muldaur and Gary Collins as Joy and George Adamson.”

Now I am pretty sure I must have watched this show! Does anyone else remember this?

Dawn Lyn playing Joy and

Dawn Lyn playing with Elsa the lion cub

And why else would I still remember the words from the theme song to this day?

Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart

Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star

Stay free where no walls divide you
You’re free as the roaring tide
So there’s no need to hide

Born free and life is worth living
But only worth living
‘Cause you’re born free

Stay free, where no walls divide you
You’re free as the roaring tide
So there’s no need to hide

Born free and life is worth living
But only worth living
‘Cause you’re born free

Well maybe I don’t remember all of the words, but that’s what the Internets are for! A lovely song nevertheless and definitely part of the messaging I received on a regular basis. (I also read the books that both the film and TV series were based on.)

Further proof: one of the first non-horse animals I ever painted? A lion of course!

My first animal portrait done at age 13. This strikes me as both funny and scary since I seemed to have locked into my painting style a long time ago!

We are, if nothing else, influenced by the media we consume. And I know I was fed a steady diet of nature shows, ecological-themed programs and female-empowerment tales (albeit Mary Tyler Moore and Police Woman.) Way before the “extreme nature entertainment” that most media offerings seems to have evolved into, I was fed the idea that nature is often friendly, cute although with an edge, but sometimes cuddly, and above all, worthy of protecting. Any wonder I grew up to work first in the conservation world saving land (or habitat as I saw it,) and then later as a wildlife artist? If I accomplish nothing else in life, I hope I helped a few people recognize wild creatures as beings worthy of attention, respect, and yes, protection.

(This is what worries me a bit about today’s cultural offerings — what will little girls today grow into after being fed a steady diet of princess-obsessed programming and/or the constant murder/violence/sex trifecta that makes up so much of pop culture now? But that’s a topic for another day.)

There are a few other shows that I know had a big influence on me that I will consider in future blog posts. Did you have any shows that you recall had a big influence on you?

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