Wednesday 30th, September 2020

Lisette Pons · Photography
5 min readFeb 4, 2021


While deeply confident of meeting the challenge posed by our project, I do not want to lose sight of what motivated me to pursue it.

Extended time spent in the African Savannah led to deep reflections. The great contrasts stirred up many emotions. Questions arose. I experienced a sense of truth and purity that I had never known before.

Chemical photography. B&W negative. Baryta paper 100x130cm
Chemical photography. B&W negative. Baryta paper 130x100cm “Guggenheim Museum”Bilbao

I soon began asking myself about Life, that in which we are all trapped.

In 2017 I was able to give shape to all those experiences through an extensive exhibition in which I presented my conclusions. I needed to express all of those deep emotions that were gripping me. I also added words to that and wrote a book.

It was a great project that, no doubt, would still continue to overwhelm me. I wanted to explain. To display a long path taken in my life linked with photography, bearing witness to the intense emotions that accumulated following the many trips to the African Savannah.

A journey through the different languages of photography over the course of many years: slides, color negative, B&W negative, digital printing, silver emulsion on handmade paper.

The National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid, part of the CSIC/Spanish National Research Council, put at my disposal two floors for my exhibition — totaling approximately 400m2 — together with all possible associated technical support, from choosing wall color to building new showcases. This museum, which calls back to the time ofthe great voyages and discoveries, was to be the ideal settingfor my purposes.

To talk about the past and the meaning of time, to remember Darwin and awaken our consciences. The event was announced on a nearly ten-meter tall exhibition totem, set near the museum entrance. The Elephants were the great protagonists and the Maasai culture was present as well.

Again I needed the help of one of my daughters, this time from Mª Eugenia. She is capable of exigency and perfection, with a remarkable ability to structure, synthesize and coordinate. Her years of experience as a teacher and working in the art museum world, of our having shared many of my experiences in Kenya, and the fact that she knows me very well, made her the ideal person to assist me.

I remember that, given the broad content of the exhibition, she said to me: When I arrive at an exhibition, I want to know what it is I am going to see. You need to write a text in which you synthesize this all.

That was a big jolt for me. Once again words surfacing in my vast world of images.

And so I wrote the introductory text for a wall panel to be set near the entrance to the exhibition. There I began to define, to specify: What did I want to show? What did I want to convey? Without a doubt the written word forces us to order and shape our own chaos.

(…) “I felt the desire to live in these place where, in the enormous space of their extent, I found the sound of Peace. I came back time and again.(…)

-After my repeated travels to the African Savannah, I felt the need to recap my experiences and draw conclusions. By means of images, material, textures and words, I present my path of observation and reflection together with the African elephant. I identified myself with many of their values and I felt the importance of conveying what they are and what they represent. I would like to confer on them the title of sedulous perseverance, of eternal volition.

Chemical photography. B&W negative
Silver Halide on handmade cotton paper (acid free) 65 x 50 cm

In connection with Maasai culture, I re-encountered behaviours and emotions that make us all equal in terms of our origins and in terms of our evolution.

Digital photography. Digital reproduction on cotton fabric 133x100cm

Evolution, is it haphazard?

The concept of the entire exhibition is one of voyage and impermanence as distinguishing facts of our lives. Also it will be about the “past”, still “present” today as a testimony to beauty, power, rhythm and harmony…which I seek to recollect. And it is my aspiration to convey the “fundamental elements of life” I have experienced in this other continent, namely Africa. Black & white and colour, on the never-ending quest for form and relevance.

I seek to convey both the importance and the fragility of memory and time and cultures, which are also about to disappear. The aim of the exhibition is to unite Art and Science, an “aesthetic” passage serving to yield a “deeper insight”.-

That was in 2017. I started down a path riddled with questions about what the next step should be. My involvement with the future of the Elephants was becoming constant, but continuing with the exhibitions did not seem like a way to help the Elephants. I kept exploring and analyzing options. Facing these many doubts, I repeatedly fell into the anguishing void of “what is the sense here?”

Chemical photography. B&W negative
Silver Halide on handmade cotton paper (acid free) 65 x 50 cm

I would never have imagined that a little over two years later, a long series of conversations would lead us to the surprising decision to create a Conservation Project in Kenya, in an Elephant corridor, located between the Maasai Mara and the Olarro Plains.

We are building a Camp, with its own special touch, through which to experience, firsthand, the beauty of the great African savannah, its landscapes, wildlife, and inhabitants. We are four partners, joining together our experiences and our shared enthusiasm: continuing to shape what we can very well call a Life Project.

(…)The African savannah was where I found answers to my gaze, my reflections and my obsessions. Here I came back looking for peace, silence and eternity. One of creation, of beautiful shapes, of the purity of sound. I travelled to the origins of human behaviour, those of which we still cannot rid ourselves.

It was a journey not only in space but also in time.(…)

From the book -The African Elephant- Lisette Pons. Pag.95



Lisette Pons · Photography

FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER WITH 45 YEARS EXPERIENCE. Artist. Barcelona, 1955. Travelling, exploring and writting. Lives and works in Mallorca.