(eta) ILALA PALM I – An original dry point etching.


Ilala Palms occur across southern Africa in low-altitude bush land, along river banks and in coastal bush, often forming extensive stands. They grow from 5 to 10 metres in height, single or multi-stemmed. The leaves are fan-shaped and greyish green in colour with tennis ball sized fruits ripening from green through orange to glossy dark brown. Fruits are produced in large quantities, up to 2000 per tree, each taking two years to mature and up to two further years to fall. The outer shell is glossy and tough and internally a thin layer of sweet-tasting, ginger-flavoured, spongy, fibrous pulp surrounds the seed. The milk present in the young fruit is similar to coconut milk in taste and colouring.

Elephants eagerly consume the newly formed leaves, which are crisp at their base and also have a pleasant coconut flavour but it is the fallen fruit that are most favoured by elephants. (They will sometimes shake the palms at their base to dislodge the ripe fruit.) The hard outer shell is chewed open to release the soft pulp inside and the entire fruit is then swallowed. The hard white seeds (sometimes called vegetable ivory) pass through the elephant’s digestive system, falling to the ground with the dung. As a result, the seeds are dispersed across large distances by elephants and it is possible to trace ancient elephant migration routes by following lines of Ilala Palms.

Palm swifts are closely associated with this palm. They can be seen nesting in a vertical position underneath the leaves. These birds have evolved a unique method of preventing the eggs from falling by gluing them in place with saliva.

To produce an etching, I first start by doing a drawing. Once this is complete, I scratch the image on to a thin sheet of plexiglass using an etching needle, this becomes the etching plate. I cover the plate with etching ink which settles into the scratched grooves. I carefully wipe away the excess ink, leaving a small amount to cover the surface of the plate. I lay a slightly damp piece of 300g Acid Free Fabriano paper on top of the etching plate and then run the paper and the plate through a hand operated printing press. The pressure of the press forces the ink out of the grooves and on to the damp paper. It is an uncertain process subject to many mistakes and I am never sure what the result will be until it emerges from the press. If I have left too much ink on the plate, the result is too dark, if I haven’t left enough ink then I lose the characteristic ‘smokey’ effect of an etching. The plate will last for approximately 25 prints before it becomes clogged or damaged and no longer useable.

Limited edition dry point etching on 350g Acid Free Fabriano Paper. This etching is delivered rolled into a tube, ready for framing. Free worldwide shipping.

Etching size: 340mm x 410mm

2 in stock

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Additional information

Weight 0.2 kg
Dimensions 41 × 34 cm

Edward Bredenkamp


340mm x 410mm


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