TARA’s Founding Patrons

Dr. Mary Leakey
Dr. Mary Leakey (1913-1996) Legendary East African palaeontologist and discoverer of the 3.7 million year old Laetoli footprints in Tanzania.

In the 1950s when Mary and Louis Leakey were working in Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge, Mary took time off to trace and reproduce the then little-known Kondoa rock paintings in central Tanzania. Much later she described this time in Kondoa as one of the happiest times of her life. In the late 1980s she introduced TARA founder David Coulson, to this art and asked him to photograph the images so that people could appreciate them and take steps to preserve them. She was concerned at how the art here was already at that time being damaged by graffiti and vandalism and encouraged David to start a Trust or Foundation with these objectives in mind. Mary Leakey died in 1996, the same year that Coulson founded TARA.

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Dr Mary Leakey

Photo courtesy of The Leakey Foundation

Sir Laurens van der Post
Sir Laurens van der Post (1906-1996) South African born author, explorer, visionary, linguist, and philosopher.

Laurens van der Post was perhaps best known for the books and films he made on the Kalahari Bushmen (or San) at a time when these remarkable people were little known or understood. It was these publications and experiences which brought van der Post together with David Coulson who had also spent time in the Kalahari with the Bushmen and had recorded their ancestral art. The two men became good friends and in the 1980s Coulson and Van der Post produced a book on the Kalahari Bushmen and their art. This was an expanded 30th anniversary illustrated version of Van der Post’s 1950s classic ‘The Lost World of the Kalahari’. Van der Post and Coulson gave a joint lecturer to a packed house at London’s Royal Geographic Society in 1988. Van der Post was the first person to open Coulson’s eyes to what he called the spiritual dimension of Bushman art and when Coulson decided to start TARA, Van der Post agreed to be a Patron.

Read more about Sir Laurens van der Post

Laurens van der Post