Spectacular Africa. Sun-drenched Sahara. Breathtaking vistas. You are settling into your tent with a tack-board marking the day’s hunt and mapping out tomorrow’s journey... Or are you in the men’s restroom at San Jacinto Title Company, Corpus Christi, Texas?
Given free-reign by the client to create, Michael Lee let his mind wander to days gone by. He was inspired by the bulding’s 1940s-era design, and created a classic African Safari Tent from a simple white plaster-walled bathroom. Every detail in the men’s room tells a story of the journey. The travel board includes a detailed map of Africa complete with photographs of the animals seen along the way — thread and tacks indicating where the exotic animals were spotted.
Two monkeys have commandeered the photographer’s camera and are creating mischief in the candlelight. Above, the left side demonstrates how Michael Lee first sketches out his vision and on the right, the completed trompe l’oeil painting.
Another glimpse into the artist’s process: Michael Lee begins by painting the room’s background textures (in this case, the wood paneling behind) in place. Once the whole room is outfitted in this way, he layers new items atop. Here you can see the underpainting and early sketches for what will eventually become the map, pins, strings and photos on the right.
Above, the tack board marks the path of travel and has photographs and sketches of the animals spotted along the way. Today, this would be replaced with a Blog or Web travelogue but as you are transported back in time, those technologies also disappear.
The old travel trunk and bug display give the safari tent a scientific flavor.