Monday 20th March
The journey from the Dead Sea in Jordan to an equivalent latitude on the Israeli bank took the artists through the agricultural landscapes of the Jordan River on both sides of the Rift Valley. Mile upon mile of poly-tunnels, date plantations, strawberry fields, courgette-picking activity and road-side vegetable stalls. These farms need intense irrigation from the River Jordan, and are the mirrored economic drivers of both countries either side of this border river.
Home for the next few days is Ein Gedi Kibbutz Hotel - the first kibbutz to be founded in the Dead Sea region in 1942. It has been listed as a worldwide botanical garden, and is simply stunning....
Once checked in, fed and watered, we all made our way upwards from 400 metres below sea level to 100 metres above it, onto the slopes of Mount Moab. From here a vast panorama of the Dead Sea region highlighted the deep gorges of the wadis, the diverted roads and the terraced lines of the receding shoreline pock-marked with sinkholes. A visually sublime landscape belying the issues shaping it.
The artists found their own place to work...
Just some of the species seen and drawn today include:
Egyptian Vultures, Sand Partridges, White Throated Kingfishers, Booted Eagle, Egrets, Black Stork, Lesser Whitethroat, Black Kites, foxes and Ibex.... not forgetting the cheeky mobs of Tristam's Grackles on the search for a swift picnic opportunity!