Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review - Society of Wildlife Artists 53rd Annual Exhibition

The Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries was absolutely packed at the Private View with those enthusiastic about wildlife art - and there were lots of sales as a result.
  • The exhibition continues until 6th November at the Mall Galleries (10am-5pm).
  • If you mention "Making A Mark" at the Gallery Front Desk you can get free entry for two people to the exhibition (normal price £6)

There are 351 works in the show - all the works are for sale, and many of the artists can (and are) commissioned. (I spoke to one very popular artist with a two year waiting list for commissions!). There is a fair range of different types of paintings, drawings, fine art prints and sculpture as always. This exhibition is always a delight to see what people can do when using different media. I very often see better exponents of the use of a medium at this show than I do at the exhibitions of art societies that specialise in specific media.

Private View of the 53rd Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists
SWLA Annual Exhibition 2016 Catalogue
Hare and Goldfinches Cover by Andrew Haslen
What's excellent about the exhibition is that the art is representational but for the most part does NOT have an emphasis on the hyperealistic which can become very boring when an exhibition lacks variation in style.

Instead what we see is art made by people who spend a lot of time observing their subject matter and understanding how it lives/works/moves and then translating that knowledge into art - rather than creating a 2D artwork out of a 2D photograph.

I saw lots of drawings and studies - which often make buying artwork more accessible.

Below you can:
  • see images of the exhibition
  • find out who won the prizes - and what their artwork looked like
  • find out about the projects which the SWLA is involved with - the drawings and paintings from these were also on display in the exhibition.

In fact it's very refreshing to see an art society that is active and thriving that it needs all three galleries to be able to cover its activities and the work of its members and those submitting through the open submission

Sculpture is always a big feature of the SWLA exhibition
These scrap metal pieces are by the SWLA President - Harriet Mead

The feature wall end of the Main Gallery - plus hares and small elephants!


That fish is big!

SWLA in the Threadneedle Space
I always love looking at the lino cut prints by Andrew Haslen who is entirely self-taught, has had a life long interest in nature - and has hand raised hares!

Hares by Andrew Haslen

Birds, birds and more birds - and a hre!

SWLA Awards 2016

Those winning awards are highlighted in the captions to their related images - see below. The awards were presented by Baroness Young of Scone, former RSPB Chief Executive and now at the Woodland Trust.
(I only realised afterwards that I last heard her speak was some 25+ years during a Chatham House session during her days as Chief Executive of a London Health Authority when she was renowned for an 'interesting' approach to getting things done!)

The winner of the top prize (the Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award of £1000 plus Swarovski optics) - was Daniel Cole who is a painter and illustrator based in Truro. His work is exhibits excellent draughtsmanship as well as keen observation and excellent use of colour and is extremely striking. This is his Facebook Page where you can see much more clearly how he works. (His website https://www.danielcoleartist.com/ appears to be down at the moment)

Daniel Cole receiving his award from Baroness Young (back to my camera) with Harriet Mead
the President of the SWLA clapping. 
This is the prizewinning work.

Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award (£1000 plus Swarovski optics)
Great Black-Backed Gulls and Rooks, Camel Estuary by Daniel Cole SWLA
Below is more of his work - I absolutely loved the large work made up of 25 smaller paintings.

Paintings by Daniel Cole
Daniel also won a second prize.

Dry Red Press Printmaker’s Award
High ride of the Fal River by Daniel Cole SWLA
The next important 'bird' prize is the RSPB Award which was presented to a founder member of the SWLA Robert Gillmor who has exhibited in every exhibition for the last 53 years.

Baroness Young (former CEO of the RSPB) presents Robert Gillmor with The RSPB Award
This is his winning artwork

The RSPB Award
Shore Larks by Robert Gillmor SWLA
Robert lives at Cley-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. He was awarded an MBE by the Queen a few years ago.

In the SWLA's 50th anniversary year a video was made about him and artwork and printing in which he also tells the story of how the society was created and how the first exhibition happened.



Nick Derry SWLA won the Roger Clarke Award with his painting of Red Kites - see below with another of Nick's paintings. [SWLA Page | Twitter]. Nick is British but lives in Besançon, Franche-Comté in France

The Hawk and Owl Trust's Roger Clarke AwardRed Kites by Nick Derry 
It's always good to see an art society encouraging the use of sketchbooks by having an award for their use. This year, the winner was Paschalis Dougalis. He also has a Wildlifeart-Fieldsketches Blog and a Facebook Page. So if you want to follow somebody who regularly sketches wildlife then you know where to go and who to follow!

This was the display case of his work

The Langford Press Field Sketchbook Award
Paschalis Dougalis

Mat Underwood won the Langford Press Printmaking Award

The Langford Press Printmakers Award
All works by Mat Underwood SWLA

The Langford Press 3-D Award was awarded to Zimbawean sculptor Stephen Reutenbach (who lives in South Africa) for his sculpture of a Pnagolin. I tried to take a photo of this but the lighting and the curled up form of the sculpture both conspired to make it impossible to make out!  You can however see it on his Facebook Page

The PJC Drawing Award
Q in Tern by Loz Wilson
A painting of a sequence of a bird in flight won the PJC Award for Loz Wilson. Jane Smith won an award for her sustained involvement in wildlife conservation from an ecological perspective.

The BIRDscapes Gallery Conservation Award
Under the Waves by Jane Smith SWLA

SLWA Projects


The SWLA is outstanding for the sponsorship and support it gets for specific focused projects which are either exploring and recording or educational - and recording!

This is the display produced by those who participated in the John Busby Seabird Drawing Course this year. The SWLA covered the cost of accommodation and mentoring to visit and produce sketches at seabird colonies around North Berwick and the Firth of Forth, an area which has the world's largest colony of Northern Gannets as well as Puffins, Kittiwakes, Cormorants and Guillemots.


These are drawings done by the SWLA / RSPB Wallasea Island WildCoast Project


The last one is an international project to record wildlife in the Sweetgum Forests in Turkey - and these are the drawings, sketches and paintings done by participating artists.

In the Turkish Sweetgum Project, SWLA members mentored a group of artists and scientists from across Turkey in using field-based wildlife art as a tool for raising awareness of the unique habitats being lost through the continued clearing and destruction of Turkish Sweet Gum Forests for agricultural use.

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