Many threads have been woven into the tapestry which describe Noel Ashton’s life, but central to them all is the deep connection that he feels towards nature and to the earth, leading to the creation of unique programmes such as the acclaimed Sacred Oceans and Mapungubwe Revisited initiatives.
After graduating in Environmental & Geographical Science from the University of Cape Town, Noel pursued his passion for the marine environment and spent over twenty years developing a complex process of morphologically mapping the world’s whales and dolphins which enabled him to create highly accurate scientific illustrations of each species. Much of this came out of working alongside the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute under the guidance of Dr Peter Best and the Whale Research Unit at the Iziko South African Museum. Apart from the use of his illustrations within the scientific community, his work has been used extensively within marine conservation, including for example a special report on Heaviside’s dolphins for the International Whaling Commission; as well as natural history publications, signage boards and information brochures and leaflets. He illustrated the MTN humpback whale and bottlenose dolphin signage boards as well as the IFAW Whale Walk and Benguela Boards, and has published a series of books on marine subjects.
Noel is often invited to present public talks, appear on radio and television, and is represented on the national speaking circuit. He also consults for the film industry and was the scientific consultant for Warner Bros in the creation of Free Willy 4.
The great, great grandson of well-known Cape artist Wilhelm Langschmidt, whose paintings are held in the William Fehr Collection at the Castle of Good Hope, Noel’s life has been dictated by his need to forge his very personal journey, seeking his inner voice and then sharing it through his artworks and writings. He has known the frustrations of the seeker, grappling with not only his creative response to the world, but also wishing to better understand the human paradigm. These have been given expression through his creativity, working in most mediums, ranging from etching, through to painting and sculpting. It is by synthesizing these different dimensions of his creative being, that he is able to share his story through exhibitions, books and a range of talks and Audio Visual presentations.
News, reviews and launch video
Noel’s latest book released by Random House Struik -
Cape Argus interview http://m.iol.co.za/article/view/s/11/a/266467
Brief curriculum vitae
- Born in 1963 in Cape Town
- Matriculated Kingswood College, Grahamstown
- Graduated in Environmental & Geographical Science, University of Cape Town (1987)
- Completed the Business Acumen for Artists Course, UCT Graduate School of Business (2010)
- His first one man show was held at Kirstenbosch Gardens in 1988
- His book The Whales of Walker Bay has become a local bestseller
- His Windows on the Oceans exhibition in the Two Oceans Aquarium was opened in 2003 by Jonathan Oppenheimer
- His anti-whaling sculpture Sacred Ocean was launched in 2008 by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in the Two Oceans Aquarium.
- His acclaimed The Whale Show is shown daily in the Hermanus Whale Museum and in the Iziko SA Museum
- His IFAW Whale Walk is a prominent feature in Hermanus and his Benguela Boards feature in coastal towns along the west coast.
- He has appeared extensively on television and radio, with a special feature on Top Billing
- He consults for the film industry and was involved in the creation of Free Willy 4 for Warner Bros
- His latest book Watching whales and dolphins in southern Africa was published in 2012 by Random House Struik, with a foreword by zoologist Mark Carwardine
- His most recent wildlife exhibition A Year in Nature was launched at the Cape Gallery in 2012 by Peter Borchert and Michaela Strachan.
- Noel and Belinda’s initiative Mapungubwe Revisited, in partnership with WWF-SA, was launched in Pretoria in 2012. To date they have raised just over R400,000.00 for WWF’s rhino conservation work.
- Noel runs his Oceans of Africa programme with his wife Belinda http://www.belinda-ashton.com