Saturday, November 02, 2013

Review: 50th Annual Exhibition - Society of Wildlife Artists

Society of Wildlife Artists - 50th Annual Exhibition 2013
I think this has been my third post about the Society of Wildlife Artists this week. However it is their 50th Annual Exhibition and they did have Sir David Attenborough and over 1,000 people at the Private View so I think that's allowed.

I met lots of the artists this year.  So many seemed to have made the effort to come.  The Private View felt like a rather big party!

It's also a really good show - and it now has lots of red spots for sales. Works are available to Browse & Buy online.  There are 339 works in the main show plus fieldwork from three projects on display in the 'Out of the Frame' room.  The work includes art by four of the founding members including past President Robert Gillmor (whose work was selling fast!) and the legendary John Busby.

Linocuts of Birds by Robert Gillmor PPSWLA
I don't think I know another show which has got such a high standard right across the board in terms of media. It also looked to me like maybe everybody was keen to win a prize and get to shake hands with David Attenborough!

West Gallery #1
Sculpture by Harriet Mead, Paintings by various artists including
Nick Derry, David Bennett, Federico Gemma, Brin Edwards
Photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Threadneedle Space
Photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell
The next day I went back again and took the tour with President Harriet Mead and Secretary Chris Rose. (I see Hannah has a new Wordpress powered website/blog - so will be adding that to the list of blogs I follow!   You can see how they both develop their very different approaches to wildlife art in their blog posts on their website. )

I've got notes of some of their comments as they highlighted some of the works in the show.  They were quick notes so this is my version of what was said rather than verbatim.

  • the work accepted for the show is produced by artists who can and do observe wildlife in the field
  • they're looking for painterly qualities in the work submitted and the truthfulness which comes from observation of how animals and birds behave
  • there may be great skill involved in copying photographs but photorealistic tigers will not be appearing in this show
"sometimes people get bogged down in exactness"
  • they don't expect to see beautiful finished tidy sketchbooks - they expect to see it's been used in the field
  • drawing is all about observation and practice. Life drawing is a good discipline for anybody wanting to draw wildlife. It teaches you about anatomy and how to observe

You can see some of the work in the show on  Artists who impressed me included: linocuts by Max Angus SWLA; sketches, sketchbooks and paintings by Federico Gemma SWLA; paintings by Darren Woodhead SWLA - who never disappoints and all the sculptors.

Bronze sculptures by Adam Binder
in front of fine art prints by various artists
including woodcuts by Robert Greenhalf and serigraphs by Carry Ackroyd


Birdwatch Artist of the Year
(£1,000 plus Swaroski equipment)
Shorteared Owl 4 (one of a suite of four paintings)
Ink, watercolour and Wax

Nik Pollard SWLA

RSPB Award -
"Blue Headed Wagtails, Greenshank and Swallows"
Nick Derry SWLA (who won two awards)
The Birdscapes Conservation Through Art Award
Bruce Pearson SWLA

The Curwen Studio Prize
Blackbird Migration (oil and acrylic

Kim Atkinson SWLA
The Langford Press Award 
Linocut and watercolour
The Feeding Tree by Andrew Haslen SWLA
The Langford Press Field Sketches Award
(£250 plus choice of Langford titles) 

Federico Gemma SWLA (Dipinti al Volo - Paintings in Flight)
The Award is given to any artist of any age who shows a fundamental understanding of the subject through their work in the field. The subject has to be of wildlife but this could encompass back garden nature just as much as exotic expedition work. The judges are looking for a body of work that captures the essence of the subject which has been drawn from life. We are not looking for studio work.
Artists were repeatedly commenting on how very impressed they were with Federico's work. His observation is impeccable and his draughtsmanship is exquisite - incredibly simple and very powerful. He's also a delightful chap to talk to!

The Hawk and Owl Trust's Roger Clarke Award 
Red Kites and Starlings (Acrylic) by Nick Derry SWLA

PJC Drawing AwardWandering Winter Waxwings (Drypoint and goldleaf - edition of 10)
Emerson Mayes
The exhibition continues until 1pm on Sunday 10th November at the Mall Galleries in London.

Don't miss seeing the "Out of Frame" section in the far North Gallery which displays a variety of works on paper by three artists - minus frames.  Hence lots of observations in the field, studies and sketches. I loved seeing Carl Ellis's fish swimming along one wall!

Sketches and studies of fish by Carl Ellis

Auction of book signed by Sir David Attenborough and artists

There's an auction coming up on eBay of five copies of the The Natural Eye, Art Book One new book by the SWLA - signed by Sir David Attenborough and the majority of the artists. As a guide, the five which were auctioned via a silent auction during the PV of the SWLA show raised a very impressive amount of money for SWLA bursaries and other projects.  I'll alert you as to when the auction is live via my Facebook Page

If the PV result is any guide I wouldn't bother with low bids!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this review. It prompted me to go. I took a friend and we were most impressed. Federico Gemma's sketches were breathtaking.


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