Yesterday we visited The Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017 exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London and can safely say, you must go. And you don’t have long – until Sunday (2nd July). A total of 136 art pieces across 7 categories have been selected for the competition and exhibition. The winner was announced last night at the opening ceremony and artist Claire Harkess with her beautiful depiction of a walrus won the grand prize of £10,000. She was presented the award by actor Peter Egan at the opening evening. Claire predominantly uses wildlife subjects for her work and was the artist in residence at Edinburgh Zoo in 1998. Her travels across the globe since have inspired her beautiful creations.
Walking through the galleries one experiences a diverse range of wildlife subjects and the media in which they’re represented. Some outstandingly realistic, you almost have to make sure it’s not a photograph and others that are far more suggestive and experimental in their techniques. For example, a lion’s head created from boot footprints and black ink.
“The sheer diversity of media and form this year has created an extraordinary celebration of the natural world and a huge challenge for the judges,” says DSWF Founder, David Shepherd CBE.
“This year’s shortlist brings the wild to life,” adds judge, award-winning artist Gary Hodges. “From the silence of a shark casting its shadowy form on the ocean bed to the scuttling of armadillos, the peacefulness of hippos wallowing in the early morning sun and the symphony of bird song at dusk, selecting the overall winner from this amazing collection will be extremely hard.”
Wildlife conservation is an extremely important action in today’s ever rapidly changing world and one that is continually under pressure from funding to help preserve the environment and external pressures such as industrial demands on habitats that threaten to destroy it. The exhibition has raised a fantastic £350,000 since its inception. Featured amongst the artwork is ‘The Bigger Picture’ which is a series of photographs, film and artwork that is made on the frontline of conservation. Showcasing anti-poaching teams in Zambia, it gives the viewer an insight into the immensely difficult and continual task these teams face day in day out.
Commenting on the event, wildlife artist and conservationist, David Shepherd CBE said: “I set up my Foundation with the sole purpose of giving something back to the animals that helped me achieve success as an artist. At a time when the world’s wildlife is under such devastating pressure from expanding human populations and the illegal trade it seems fitting that we take a step back and reflect on the sheer beauty and diversity of our natural world and what could be lost if we do not truly appreciate the value of the world around us.”
So in visiting this exhibition you’re helping promote the conservation efforts and who knows, you might be as we were tempted to buy some new art for your home. If you’re unsure, know that 50% of the proceeds will be going directly to worldwide conservation efforts to help protect the very subject in your artwork. Better hurry, it’s not here for long.
Open daily – 10am – 5pm. / 4pm Saturday / 1pm Sunday.
Runs: June 28th – July 2nd
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation