The Gaming of the Shrew

The Gaming of the Shrew

Oil on Baltic Birch 11" x 17" x 2"


Elephant Shrews create elaborate mazes in the forests and deserts of Africa, in order to outsmart predators who are unfamiliar with their labyrinths. The name Elephant Shrew” is a misnomer, as they are neither an elephant nor a shrew. The more technical name for these insectivorous mammals is Sengi.” Not surprisingly, they are related to aardvarks and elephants, accounting for their trunk-like noses. I chose the Black and Rufous Sengi subspecies for their colourful coat, which would also inform the colour palette for the painting.


Creating a concept sketch for this work, I envisioned the scene of an epic chase: an intrepid young male shrew racing from a predator and catching air off a cow skull like a bucking bronco, while a shy female wisely and creatively hides herself away from danger in the skulls eye socket.


The title for this work is an adaptation of Shakespeares famous play. However, unlike the negative association with a shrew-like wife, I put on a positive spin reflecting the cleverness and comedic charm I see in these tiny creatures.