READERS IMAGES PART 15 – NEIL HAYES HILL ON THE OKAVANGO AND ON HIS ART
An abbreviated biography From Neil Hayes-Hill
My paternal grandfather, Harry Hayes-Hill, fished the upper Zambezi annually at Nantunga channel, Caprivi, and took me along during my teenage years in the 60's, where I unwittingly learnt about delicate marine environments; the matter that Nembwe yellow bream and other serranochromis had pharyngeal gill teeth proving their predatorship, whereas the Njini Three-spot breams ( ex tilapia, now oreochromis ) had smooth gills; that most bream species above the six 100 000 yr old gorges of Victoria Falls are predatory and are completely different to the diatomite grazing bream species below the falls where you have to fish with earth worms (39 species of fish below the falls and 89 species above). This I found fascinating.
The camp would be set up at Nantunga amongst some huge trees about a four hour’s boat drive up the Zambezi from Chobe via the Kasai channel, with old wooden speedboats with 50 hp Mercurys.
Being artistic, I immediately started painting field studies of the numerous Zambezi fish species, rather like the caveman who painted prey onto rock faces, hoping to elicit a spiritual advantage for his next hunt. And the better the sketch, the better the spiritual advantage would be! Furthermore, taxidermying the fish species may work even better, so I also took that up.
Jeff Richmond taught me how to fly fish at his family’s berg farm Blydskap in the Kerkenberg, near Olivier's Hoek, in the early 70's, and I have rarely used "whirr-whirr-clunk-clunk" mechanical gear since, and decided to remain, as described by some, a "self disadvantaged-line entanglement-fisherman". Fly fishing is undoubtedly an environmental recreational challenge that is hugely satisfying to the human psychic, solves the atavistic caveman instincts and is an invaluable contributor to our fast deteriorating natural world.
I have met and fished with some serious, world class flyfishers: the late Keith Miller, Greg Wright and Piet Snyman, who for some years held numerous tippet class IGFA Tigerfish records; and lately a fellow called Andrew Parsons who is the master guide on the oceanic fly-fishing mother ship Pangaea see http://www.rnryachts.com/Pangaea.html
In terms of my architectural profession, I have been fortunate to become involved for some years now in upmarket African Safari lodge and hotel design, all over Africa from Victoria Falls Zambia ( Royal Livingstone) to Namibia, to the Gabon, the Middle East, Brazil, and presently have an "Africanization " brief for a Safari Hotel being developed in West Midlands UK. I have won some design and environmental awards. Other projects have been voted the best boutique hotels in the world - see http://www.tintswalo.com/ATLANTIC/atlantic_home.html