Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Clare Harkess wins Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017

Yesterday I attended the Private View for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundations’ (DSWF) 2017 Wildlife Artist of the YearThis post covers:
  • who won which award
  • general impressions of the exhibition - plus images.
  • events on Saturday
I was at the PV early so I could see the exhibition before the hordes of wildlife artists and enthusiasts arrived - it's a very busy PV! I collected my press pack when I arrived; this included the stick of images and the announcement of the winners - but I couldn't access it! I then went around the exhibition before everybody else arrived trying to work out who might have won.....

I left before the prize-giving (steroid injection worn off + rain = everything hurts!) which is why I was ecstatic - not to mention cock-a-hoop- this morning to see that I guessed right (again!) as to which artwork won the top award.  Those who met me last night will know I was saying how much I liked it!

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I'm apt to be a bit OTT when I identify the pic which wins top prize in advance of the formal announcement. For me it always feels like my "eye" for a good picture has been validated yet again - and that's always a nice feeling!

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017 (£10,000) - Clare Harkess

Walrus of Magdalene Fjord I by Clare Harkess
Winner of:
Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017 
The Artist Magazine, editors choice award

Claire Harkess has won the £10,000 prize as Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017. She also won the The Artist Magazine, editors choice award. so you can look forward to an article about how she paints in a future edition. (the £10,000 prize is sponsored by Mr & Mrs Covey)

Clare won with Walrus of Magdalene Fjord I - a startingly simple but hugely effective watercolour painting of a walrus ( she has two in the show). The background appears plain but provides an impression of the way in which an iceberg looks like a mountain.  One also gets a strong sense of the isolation and the cold.

One of the reasons I thought it might win is because I don't ever recall seeing a painting of a walrus in this competition before. I also thought it was one of the most effective paintings of wildlife I've seen in some time.

Commenting on the winning piece the judges said:
“Despite the softness of the painting it captures the weight and character of the animal and a real sense of place.”
Clare's watercolour paintings of walruses are on the mezzanine wall next to the steps

Dr Sally Bulgin, Editor of The Artist Magazine said:
Watercolour is a very difficult medium to master but Claire Harkess has expressed the qualities beautifully with an economy of colour to create a very understated but powerful work. I love the creation of shapes in the lower part of the picture and the quality of the watercolour in drips and splashes; the deckle edges mean that you see the painting as an object in its own right. Claire has a love of her materials which shines through with exquisite draughtsmanship and quality – and a sense of humour in expression of the walrus. The artist has left the happy accidents and drips so that we enjoy the paint as much as the wildlife she’s depicting.

About Claire Harkess

  • Lives: grew up on the West Coast of Scotland; currently lives and works in Perth, Scotland.
  • Education: graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1993
  • Works: Artist - Wildlife and the Natural World are predominant in her work. Artist-in-Residence at Edinburgh Zoo in 1998; has travelled extensively, gathering material for her paintings – Antarctica, The Gal├ípagos Islands, Australia, the Caribbean, St Kilda, Kenya and India.
  • Exhibits: elected member of RSW (Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour); exhibits widely throughout the UK
  • Other competitions: In 2011 Claire was Overall Runner-up in WAY competition

Runner Up for WAY 2017 - Orangutan by David Cooke
£22,000.00 | Size: 110cm x 260cm 65cm | Edition of 6

Wildlife Artist of the Year - Runner up (£1,000)

David Cooke for his life size bronze of an Orangutan (see below). The judges said:
This striking piece dramatically captures the character of the species – it is full of pathos – depicting a species that is literally hanging on
  • Lives: studio at Meltham Mills in West Yorkshire 
  • Education: degree in 3D Design (1992), Leeds Metropolitan University 
  • Works: professional sculptor since 1992
  • Exhibits: Widely across the UK
I also had this marked down as a possible winner - partly because of its location but also because it's a very "look at me" piece!

Wildlife Artist of the Year - Category Winners

Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2017, the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition brings together the world’s best wildlife artists exploring seven exciting categories. From Earth’s Beautiful Creatures to Urban Wildlife more than 130 original works challenge preconceptions of wildlife art.

All Category Winners win a cheque for £500

Category winner: Animal Behaviour - Peter Stewart

for a real understanding of animal behaviour and a sense of character.

Category Winner: Peter Stewart – Dazzle and Dust
The judges said:
we loved the atmospheric use of light and the beautiful composition.
  • Lives: Grew up and lives in South Africa and became interested in wildlife and the African bush from an early age
  • Education: Influenced by Kim Donaldson(personal friend and mentor), Paul Bosman, Dino Paravano, Shirley Greene and David Shepherd
  • Works: ?
  • Exhibits: ?
  • website:

Category winner: Earth’s Beautiful Creatures- Corinne Zollinger

beautifully executed original artworks but also imaginative interpretation, moving away from the purely photographic to compositions with great characterisation, showing imagination, originality and genuine creativity. 
Sponsored by Gary Hodges on behalf of Joan Morley.

Weathered by Corinne Zollinger£500.00 (SOLD)
Size: 36cm x 20cm x 15cm | Clay sculpture with a rust patina
The judges said:
This is a stunning little piece with a clever use of patina to convey atmosphere
I thought it was a very quiet but delightful piece. I am not in the least bit surprised it sold very fast. Again, this is an animal which we don't see often in this competition. I think there's a lesson there for those aspiring to get selected!
  • Lives: Switzerland
  • Education: self-taught artist
  • Works: currently working full-time as a zookeeper at Basel Zoo in Switzerland
  • Exhibits: 
  • Other competitions: 
Corinne Zollinger does not consider herself a professional artist yet, it has become more than a hobby over the years. It is Corinne’s way to see the world and all its marvellous and amazing creatures. She says: “with my subjects in front of me all the time, inspiration finds me on a daily basis”.

Category winner: Hidden World - Brooke Walker

– a celebration of remote and rarely observed or lesser known landscapes and species. Presented in memory of Derek Francis.

Okapia Johnstoni by Brooke Walker
£1,000.00 (sold)
Oil painting | Size: 45cm x 55cm

The judges said:
A beautifully textural image that gives a glimpse into the life and habitat of a rare species.
  • Lives: Maslin Beach, South Australia. Childhood spent on a hobby farm in McLaren Vale
  • Education: Bachelor of Design (specialising in illustration) University of South Australia (2007-2009 plus various workshops
  • Works: an emerging South Australian visual artist; recently transitioned to working as a full time artist
  • Exhibits: in Australia
  • Other competitions: ?
  • website:

Category winner: Into the Blue - Matthew Polluk

– illustrating the wonderful world of water, be it ocean, seashore, wetland, river or stream. Sponsored by Barlow Robbins.

The Eloquence of Seduction by Matthew Polluk
Ink Pen and Paint | Size: 120cm x 180cm
The judges said:
Gorgeous tones with a real sense of being underwater with sparkles of light – it has a fantastic sense of freedom and scale of movement.

Category winner: Urban Wildlife - Paul Hawdon

– entries in an urban style or depicting the city life of animals and plants. Judges were looking for both originality in the habitat as well as the contrast between wild and urban life.

Double Glazing by Paul Hawdon
Etching (Edition of 40) | Size: 68cm x 58cm
The judges said:
Completely pared down – this really is a case of less is more – beautifully composed and well executed demonstrating great skill as an etcher.
  • Lives: based in Cambridge, UK
  • Education: studied Fine Art at Saint Martin’s School of Art (graduated with 1st class Honours);  postgraduate study at the Royal Academy Schools of Art.
  • Works: painter and printmaker; Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE) since 1989
  • Exhibits: exhibits regularly with RA at the Banksdie Gallery; exhibits widely;  works in the collections of the University of Wales and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • Awards: Italian Government Fine Art Scholarship (1985/6) and the Prix de Rome in Printmaking (1988/9).
  • website:

Category winner: Vanishing Fast - Atsushi Harada 

Showing our vanishing world – it can be any species officially listed as endangered or threatened on the IUCN Red List – or any a landscape that is at risk. 
Sponsored by Barlow Robbins.

Tomorrow by Atsushi Harada
£1,800.00 (SOLD)
Oil painting | Size: 83cm x 92cm
The judges said:
With a beautiful sense of stillness – it draws you in to the subject and makes you connect – a soft and poignant portrayal of this endangered big cat.
  • Lives: born in 1962 in the Kyushu region of southern Japan
  • Education: 
  • Works: Painter
  • Exhibits: exhibited in the United States, Europe and Japan; exhibited at 
    • the Society of Animal Artists' 57th Annual Exhibition from Sept. 2 to Oct. 29 at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell, New Jersey.
    • 42nd annual Birds in Art exhibition from Sept. 9 through Nov. 26 at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin
  • Other competitions: his painting "White Ghost" was chosen as the winner in the Endangered Wildlife category of the David Shepherd 2015 Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition in London.

Category winner: Wings, Feathered or Otherwise - Pascal Chesneau

–the extraordinary variety of winged wildlife – birds and insects, in flight or at rest. Sponsored by Barlow Robbins

Manchots Empereur (£5,900.00 ex. delivery) by Pascal Chesneau
Size: 40cm x 110cm x 30cm; 80cm x 72cm x 24cm
Recycled Car Roof, Formed Sheet Metal, Welded Sculpture
Price does not include delivery

The judges said:
Instantly recognisable the sculpture shows the noisy interaction of the animals caught in the moment.
  • Lives: born in UK. Lives in Moyaux, Calvados, Normandy, France
  • Works: Sculptor
  • Exhibits: widely around France, winner of a number of awards; exhibited at Rountree Tryon Galleries, London in 2016
  • Other competitions: Winner of the Wildlife Artist of the Year 3D category in 2014
  • Website:

Highly Commended:

  • Tony Feld – Hippo Pool
  • Sophie Louise White – Kingfishers, Halcyon Days
  • Marie Antoniou – Barbary Macaque
  • Dagna Gmitrowicz – The Moment Frozen in Plastic
  • Nick Oneill – Tranquillity
  • David Cowdry – Don’t Tell Him Pike
  • Gemma Hayward – Lappet Faced Vulture – A Study
  • Szabolcs Kokay – Displaying Raggiana Birds of Paradise
  • Claudia Hahn – Crowned Cranes
  • Martin Aveling – Twocans
  • Fernando Garcia Herrara – Future
  • Nick Oneill – Reef Shark
  • Karen Phillips – Kabu
  • Paul Fearn – River Reflections
  • Tom Shepherd – Rainbow Remedy

You can see all the exhibits on the shop website

The Exhibition

The exhibition is on at the Mall Galleries until Sunday July 2 (Wed-Fri 10am-5pm – Sat 10am-4pm – Sun 10am-1pm).

Entry is by donation to the Foundation.

The exhibition displays its normal very hight standards in terms of the artwork on display. As usual, the 3D sculptures are outstanding. I'm not quite sure why wildlife artists should be so very good at sculpture - but they are!

The end wall of the Main Gallery is very striking - and also features prizewinners
1) the runner up for the WAY 2017 prize (centre)
2) the 'Into the Blue' Category Winner (right)

The winner of the Earth's Beautiful Creatures Category is in the foreground
View of one of the very colourful long walls in the Main Gallery
Small sculptures in this corner alongside some very powerful images of a variety of wildlife
One of the interesting things about the exhibition is how big or small artwork is
relative to what you imagined. The Kingfisher sculpture is BIG!
Winner of Hidden World Category is centre of the row beneath the big painting

View back up the Gallery to the mezzanine and entrance on The Mall
You can also see a short video of the exhibition on my Facebook Page.

All the artwork is for sale and the aim of the exhibition is to help raise funds for the David Shepherd Foundation which does so much to protect wildlife. The range of prices for the artwork is quite extreme.

However if you fancy something more affordable, there is a postcard wall where postcards are all priced at £60 - and they're all by artists selected for the exhibition.

One of them (#43) is being posted to me after the exhibition! 

The Postcard Wall
by Sarah Menon

There's also an exhibition in the Threadneedle Space by The Bigger Picture (TBP) - about anti-poaching anti-poaching programmes that DSWF helped establish and now supports in Zambia

Freddy Paske (artist), Dave Mackay (photographer) and Dieter Deswarte (documentary filmmaker) are exhibiting their work in this unique project combining art, photography and film created whilst in the field, to raise awareness and funds for the programme. For more about the project click here


There is a Family Saturday with opportunities to get involved in making your own wildlife art.

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