Thursday, July 02, 2015

Review: Wildlife Artist of the Year 2015

I visited the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2015 Exhibition - run by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation yesterday - and recommend it to all those who enjoy wildlife art.  Funds raised by the exhibition go to support wildlife conservation projects around the world.

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2015 - a view of the end wall of the Main Gallery
I was so 'snookered' by the extreme heat and humidity on the way home yesterday - it was like an oven in London - that I didn't write the blog post last night as planned. Today has been cooler but with very humidity which I'm not a fan of!

The exhibition is at the Mall Galleries until 4pm on Saturday 4th July 2015. It's open every day from 10am and there's a late night on Friday and then it finishes at 4pm on Saturday.

186 artworks have been selected from the 1,000 entries to the competition. A further 38 artworks were selected but not hung

In the Threadneedle Space are small sketches by David Shepherd and large paintings and sculptures by invited artists.

Artwork from invited artists in the Threadneedle SpaceStefano Zagaglia, Adam Binder and Simon Max Bannister
More artwork in the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2015 exhibition at the Mall Galleries 
On the website you can see
On YouTube you can see a video of the exhibition and some of the prizewinners which was made this week - after the Private View and Awards Ceremony on Monday evening.

Below you can find out about:
  • the prizewinners - including who won the £10,0000 Wildlife Artis of the Year
  • artwork I liked
  • an interesting new initiative - which any art society could copy
  • some comments on how a good exhibition could be even better

The exhibition produces a really nice catalogue with the artwork very sensibly sorted into categories which makes it very easy for those thinking about entering next year to see the overall type and standard of artwork selected for the exhibition - in the different categories.

For those entering the 2016 Wildlife Artist of the Year, I recommend trying to get hold of a copy as you can then see the artwork by category very easily.

Major Prizewinners

Nick Mackman won the £10,000 Wildlife Artist of the Year (2015).  She also the Wildlife in 3D Category for sculpture in any medium.

Nick Mackman with her ceramic warthogs titled "Sleepy Heads"
Winner of Wildlife Artist of the Year 2015
£10,000 prize money is sponsored by Mr and Mrs Covey
Image: copyright Rowena Chowdrey | Used with permission of  WAY
Dafila Scott was the Runner Up with her painting of Cranes on the Fen. She gets a prize of £1,000and an artist residency for a week at Nature in Art, Gloucestershire sponsored by Simon Trapnell

Dafila also won the Contemporary Category - for artwork which challenges traditional boundaries.

Dafila Scott is the daughter of the naturalist - and painter - Sir Peter Scott and the granddaughter of Captain Robert Falcon Scott ('Scott of the Antarctic'). You can see Dafila's paintings of the Antarctic (and penguins!) on her website.

Cranes on the Fen by Dafila Scott
Runner Up and Winner of the Contemporary Category
Acrylic and Mixed Media, 38 x 25cm £600 [SOLD]

Category award winners

The Category winners each receive £500.

Endangered Wildlife

any wild animal or plant that is threatened or endangered nationally or internationallyWhite Ghost by Atsushi Harada

White Ghost by Atsushi Harada
Gouache, 57cm x 81cm (22.4" x 31.9"), £1,100.00 [SOLD]

Wild World 

any scene or landscape showing the natural environment Noisy Neighbours by Tony Feld

Despite walking round three times I missed this one! Click the link in the title to see the real thing. My personal preference was for his wonderful painting of puffins.


where any wild animal(s) features as the main focusAutruches by Francois Gruson - who also had another unusual work selected (but not hung)

Autruches by Francois Gruson
pencil, 203 x 78cm. £3,000 [SOLD]
This work dominated the monochrome feature wall - which featured three category winners in total.

The Monochrome Feature wall was excellent - works covered a variety of categories
It's a great example of how selecting the right type of frame can make or break a drawing, painting or print.
The neutral frames did not compete with the artwork.
Also on this wall was a suite of three works, one of which won the Original Prints category- for artwork drawn from one or several plates, conceived and executed entirely by hand by the same artist. Patricia Rozental won with Bee (1). You can read her blog post about the PV and winning the award on her blog.
Bee (1) by Patricia Rozental
Etching and aquatint, 22 x 25cm (£95 - edition of 15) [1 SOLD]
The monochrome wall also displayed the work which won the Monochrome Category award.


Any wild animal or landscape drawn in tones of any one colourCold Shoulder by Terry Miller

Graphite, 44 x 35cm £800

Young & Wild

open to 17-25 year olds covering all categoriesStorm Damage by Holly Brookes
Storm Damage by Holly Brookes
Sandpaper Aquatint - Edition of 10, 50cm x 60cm (19.7" x 23.6"), £200.00

Silver Artist

The Silent Watcher by Barry Sutton
ceramic (£3,600)
open to over 60 year olds covering all six categoriesThe Silent Watcher by Barry Sutton

It's great to see an art competition making an award to older artist. So many artists only start making artin life that they're just getting into the swing  of it by the time get get to 60!

Interestingly the winner of this award is a very respected sculptor and modelmaker. H e used to work for British Museum (Natural History) where he made an extensive study of animal anatomy and rose to become Head of the Museum’s Model-making Department.

The David Shepherd Choice

It must be a major perk - if not a boast - to have a wildlife artwork chosen as David Shepherd's favourite in the competition! The piece chosen this year is The Valley – Sharpenhoe by Heather Irvine. I liked this one a lot - particularly the fact that it placed behaviour within a habitat context. You just 'know' the bird is hovering...

Heather was the the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2012.
The Valley, Sharpenhoe by Heather Irvine
Oil on Canvas, 76cm x 61cm (29.9" x 24"), £695.00

The Artist Magazine Award - selected by the editor of The Artist Magazine (feature article for the successful artist in The Artist magazine) - Curlews by Lisa Hooper

Curlews by Lisa Hooper
Hand coloured collagraph, 91cm x 73cm (35.8" x 28.7"), £400 [SOLD]

Highly Commended

  • Freda Cheung – The Horn (contemporary)
  • Martin Buffery – Stroll on Galapagos Tortoise (portrait)
  • Paul Hawdon – Spider (orginal print)
  • Neil Taylor – Last Light Black Rhino (endangered)
  • Christine Dadd – Carpathian Wolf Aiyana (portrait)
  • Terry Miller – The Last Day of Summer (monochrome)
  • Lisa Hooper – A Stand of Plovers (original print)
  • Stella Mayes – Frozen Kingdom (wild world)
  • Nick Mackman – Thandi’s Girl (3D)
  • Angela Smith – African Queen (endangered)
  • White on Silver - Nick Oneill (portrait)
  • David Filer – The King (monochrome)
  • Philip Nelson – Shoveler Pair (3D)
  • Christine Lamberth – The Commodity (endangered)
  • Karl Taylor – Amma’s Chandeliers Indian House Crows (contemporary)
  • Sarah Drummond – The Clamdigger (original print)
The Sculpture section of the exhibition is very strong as always

Rushing by Ching Kek How
247cm x 103cm (97.2" x 40.6"),
Chinese ink on paper

People's Choice

The final prize is People’s Choice which is chosen by visitors to the exhibition and announced at the end of the week-long exhibition. Both the chosen artist and a winner drawn from visitors votes, win a prize.

This is the piece I voted for - it's right in the centre of the end wall in the Main Gallery - usually regarded as a top spot!

 It's by a Chinese artist called Ching Kek How who's producing some really excellent work.

I'd love to know he gets the drawing on the background support. I also assume it rolls but would like to know how!

Some Observations on the Exhibition

There's a good range of art media and approaches to making art in the show which makes it interesting to look at.

The importance of sketching

I liked the fact David Shepherd included small sketches and studies in a variety of media - finished and unfinished. It's an accessible way of owning his art. It also reminds people that wildlife art does not start with sitting down at an easel!

Sketches by David Shepherd
It would be great to see maybe a presentation from an artist each year showing just how they go about getting from observation in the wild to artwork in an exhibition!

Coloured pencil art

I noticed that there's an awful lot of coloured pencil drawings in the exhibition - and those who like wildlife art and use coloured pencils might want to make a note of this!

Fine Art Prints

Most of the work is originals which of course can only be sold once. I'd like to see more original fine art prints which of course can generate repeats sales within an edition. I see lots at the SWLA Exhibition and was rather surprised not to see more in this exhibition.

There's wildlife and there's wildlife

How about a prize for British Wildlife?  Content of the exhibition is naturally influenced by the project supported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. That does make for an awful lot of big cats!  However I'd like to see more 'normal' British wildlife featured in contexts which are not necessarily exotic or cost an arm or a leg to get to!

I liked these two paintings by Karl Taylor which to me exemplified a number of points made in this commentary.

Two paintings of UK birds by Karl Taylor 


Some artists need lessons - or guidance - in signatures. Signatures can lose you prizes and/or commendations.....

See my website How to sign a painting, drawing or fine art print


I think there's a very good reason why all the artworks which have won prizes have nice and/or neutral frames. Such frames allow the artwork to speak and don't drown it.

In my opinion there are a few too many frames in the exhibition which should not be there. Either they are too demanding on the eye and attract attention away from the artwork or they are just too fussy for wildlife art which, in my opinion, works much better with simple frames which avoid the use of gilt.

In my view a note to artists about requirements re. framing would not go amiss. It seems to me so much of what is presented in the show is artwork produced by people who are not used to London exhibitions and framing styles.

The advantage to both artist and the organisers is an initiative to provide better guidance might see improved sales. After all, when you know you will have to remove a frame and replace it with another, that changes the overall cost of a work!

Certainly if there were two artworks of equal artistic weight and one had a neutral frame and the other had a "look at me" and/or OTT frame I know which one would not make it into the exhibition.....

Art Postcards

Postcard Art
Postcard by Simon Conolly
- it's a murmuration of starlings
very simple and subtle
I thought the idea behind the Art Postcard wall was brilliant - and I wasn't in the least bit surprised to see that virtually all of them had sold.  They looked good because all were the same size and all the same price.

The artists selected for the exhibition were asked to contribute a postcard which has been sold for £50 with 100% going to charity.

Small works are of course the stepping stone to creating new art collectors and at £50 an awful lot of people can join in with buying art!

Plus it's been an extremely good earner for the charity. If they all sell they will have raised £38,000!

I bought one! It's a graphite drawing of the work by Simon Conolly which is sculpted in clay in the main exhibition.

Here's the Call for Entries post for this year's exhibition -  Wildlife Artist of the Year 2015 - Call for Entries

The 2015 Wildlife Artist of the Year is generously supported by: Tilney Bestinvest, Mr & Mrs Covey, Barlow Robbins, Gary Hodges, Powertraveller, Carol Cordrey, The Oliver Foundation & More information at


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous work! Makes me wish I could see it in person. I thought the postcard art was a great idea. Thanks Katherine for doing such a great job (in spite of the humidity :-))

  2. Lovely review of the exhibition, I think the standard gets stronger and stronger every year, although I agree with your view that more British wildlife should be represented. I ummed and aaahed over that same postcard for ages, meaning to come back and buy it! Loved his sculpture.

  3. Dear Katharine,
    Thank you for creating a fantastic blog and helping me to keep up with all the fascinating exhibitions and competitions going on in the UK. Having followed your blog for several years, it has been a source of inspiration and motivation! Many thanks!

  4. Might pop in next week. Love the postcard wall, would be a good idea for the SBA exhibition Katherine


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