Friday, May 31, 2019

12th Wildlife Artist of the Year won by Stephen Rew

The Wildlife Artist of the Year 2019 Exhibition is currently on at the Mall Galleries until 2nd June 2019.  It contains 152 artworks for sale which were juried and selected for exhibition.

The Wildlife Artist of the Year juried art competition was established by David Shepherd CBE FRSA (1931 – 2017). It represents his vision for ‘The Art of Survival’ – using art for wildlife conservation. The exhibition is all about exhibiting the best in wildlife art and raising funds for wildlife conservation.

Below you can find:
  • facts about the exhibition and how to see it
  • the list of the award winners
  • my commentary on the exhibition - which this year is focused on what's different

Includes two paintings by last year's winner (top right and centre)
and two paintings of an animal - the polar bear - which won the year before in 2017!
You can see online
  • the shortlist of selected artworks featured in the exhibition and shortlisted for category prizes - for those unable to get to London,
  • an online exhibition of those artworks which didn’t make onto the walls of the exhibition at the Mall Galleries but which the judges believe demonstrate incredible skill and creativity. These are also for sale.
50% of every sale will go directly to saving endangered species and fighting wildlife crime across Africa and Asia.
Unfortunately I missed the preview and awards on Tuesday evening as I was at the National Portrait Gallery all day watching the Final of next year's Portrait Artist of the Year 2020 being filmed. However I visited the exhibition yesterday afternoon and images from this year's exhibition can be found below.

The Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition

50% of the sales of all works of art also goes to the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's wildlife conservation projects across Africa and Asia.

View of the exhibition in the Main Gallery of the Mall Galleries
Every year this exhibition attracts a lot of entries from all over the world. Many wildlife artists regard just getting selected as a major achievement given the number and calibre of the entries it gets.  It's particularly strong on wildlife art of the more exotic variety.

The competition is open to amateur and professional artists aged 17 and over and welcomes all traditional artistic mediums (excluding digital and photography).

For all aspiring wildlife artists it's an ESSENTIAL exhibition to visit. Although you can view the prizewinners online and on Facebook, you can only really appreciate the quality of the paintings and sculpture when viewed in the galleries.

The exhibition opened on Wednesday 29th May and is open as follows
  • Until Friday – 10am to 5pm
  • Saturday – 10am to 4pm
  • Sunday – 10am – 1pm
MORE OBSERVATIONS on the exhibition after the list of awards below.....

Very furry and feathery

Awards and Views of the Exhibition

The awards are listed below
  • There's an image for each award + details of the media, size and price 
  • plus a profile of each artist. Their website is embedded in the name.
Unlike last year, the website does not provide the comments from the Judges next to each award on the website.

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2019 (£10,000) - Stephen Rew

‘Writhe’ by Stephen Rew
The judges commented on how brave the piece was, to create something so incredible and unique to be hung on a wall.

I'd add - to be hung on a wall - and then turn the corner!

Stephen Rew completed an arts degree at Swansea University. In between his studies he spent time studying animals in the wild in India, the Middle East and Africa's Kwa-Zulu Natal. His paintings and bronze sculptures have been shortlisted for three consecutive years for David Shepherd's Wildlife Artist of the Year competition.

The Wildlife Artist of the Year Runner Up (£1,000) - ‘Reflection’ by Tamara Pokorny

One artwork is selected as the runner up of Wildlife Artist of the Year 2019 and is awarded a prize of £1000. This year it was a very detailed scratchboard depiction of a Lionfish by Tamara Pokorny SSA from Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany. Tamara won the Wings category in 2015.

She excels at monochrome work and her use of scratchboard and ink.

Reflection by Tamara Pokorny
Wildlife Artist of the Year Runner-up
Category: Into the Blue
Scratchboard and ink | 31 x 25 cm | £2,050
"When depicting animals, I enjoy the opportunity of occasionally offering a view of species that are not as often represented in animal art. What draws me to recreate a certain moment or encounter can be an animal's pose or attitude, the lighting or the feel of its environment, or a story that needs to be told.

Category Winners

Animal Behaviour - ‘All Mine’ by Sarah Cosby

Open to art which shows a real understanding of animal behaviour and a sense of character.

The Artist Magazine Award / Animal Behaviour - ‘All Mine’ by Sarah Cosby

This work also won the The Artist Magazine Editor’s Choice (Provided by The Artist magazine) is....
Chosen by Editor, The Artist Award winner is given a profile feature for publication in The Artist, print and digital issues.
Sarah Cosby won two awards with this watercolour and watercolour pencil work on paper.

‘All Mine’ by Sarah Cosby
Watercolour pencil and watercolour on paper | 48 x 48cm | £1,500

Sarah has a Master (Honours) Art History from University of St Andrews, Scotland. She then studied portraiture at the Florence Academy of Art (2009), has a London Postgraduate Diploma in Fine and Decorative Art from Sotheby's Institute of Art (2010) and most recently studied at the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA) in 2013.  She has previously exhibited in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition in 2016.

Her portraits of animals can be found in the Figurative section of her website.

Into the Blue - ‘Tayinloan Velvet 514’ by Rich Simpson

Art illustrating the wonderful world of water, be it ocean, seashore, wetland, river or stream. 
‘Tayinloan Velvet 514’ by Rich Simpson
articulated hollow bronze, 92 x 30 x 18cm extended, 18kg | £8,500
The right claw of a velvet swimming crab (Necora Puber), represented at 12 times original scale

Rich Simpson
's website states
His sculptures in bronze pay tribute to the elegant mechanical solutions of life: the underlying principles with which nature creates form.

Wings - ‘Johnny Crow and the Tremoloes’ by Michael FitzGerald

Art showing the extraordinary variety of winged wildlife – birds and insects, in flight or at rest.
Johnny Crow and the Tremoloes’ by Michael FitzGerald
Oil on Canvas, 100 x 100cm £3,500
There was a very wide variety of artwork in the wings category - both in terms of subject matter, artistic style and media used

Vanishing Fast - ‘Desert Haze’ by Laura Pearse

Art 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.
Desert Haze by Laura Pearse
oil on board, 40 x 60cm £950

Laura Pearse is a self taught artist born in Rutland in 1987. Laura lives in East London and works as a specialised Portrait and Wildlife artist. She has participated in the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition 2016 - 2019.

Human Impact - ‘Shark Fins’ by Sofiya Shukhova

A new category, open to young artists aged between 17 and 25 years. Judges are looking for dynamic and political depictions of the consequences human life has had on earth’s wildlife.
Shark Fins’ by Sofiya ShukhovaLinocut and watercolour on paper
42 x 59cm

Sofiya Shukhova is a Russian-native Singapore-based wildlife artist. She is currently undertaking her MSc in Conservation and International Wildlife Trade at the University of Kent, UK

This is a video she did for National Geographic Russia which has English subtitles.

Urban Wildlife - ‘Black and White’ by Daniel Krysta

Entries in an urban style or depicting the city life of animals and plants. Judges are looking for both originality in the habitat as well as the contrast between wild and urban life.
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Daniel Krysta is a Polish postwar & contemporary painter who was born in 1976.  He graduated from the Faculty of Painting of Wrocław's Academy of Fine Arts, having completed his diploma in Professor Stanisław Kortyka's studio. He lives and works in Wroclaw.

Earth’s Wild Beauty - ‘New Forest Dawn’ by Cy Baker

Open to art illustrating wild landscapes, seascapes and the people who live in these environments or work to protect them.
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Cy Baker studied scientific illustration at Southampton Institute and Blackpool and the Fylde College of Art. He used to work as a freelance illustrator doing paintings for various clients on both sides of the Atlantic, including Readers Digest, BBC Wildlife Magazine and New Holland Press. In 2015 he gave up work to focus entirely on being a full time artist after he won a number of prizes in wildlife art competitions - notably Marwell and Dartmoor. Since then he's sold a lot of paintings.

People’s Choice

Every visitor to the exhibition at the Mall Galleries, SW1 has the chance to vote for their favourite artwork. The artwork with the most votes by the exhibition closing date is awarded a prize worth £500.

More about the exhibition

The exhibition is later than last year and earlier than when it used to be the first week of June (year in and year out). However, it has, as always got lots of red dots on the work which has sold.
I'm unclear who the Judges were - but the exhibition seemed to be different this year.
  • the layout is different - with the exhibition seeming to have more space devoted to David Shepherd (North Gallery) and guest artists (Threadneedle Space) and less space devoted to the actual artwork selected for the exhibition
  • the Catalogue has a new look
  • the artwork is different.

The Layout

I can't say I spent a lot of time in the North Gallery and Threadneedle Space and that's because I only come for the Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition.

I recall years when the Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition spread across both the Main Gallery and the Threadneedle Space and looked good in both.  I couldn't work out why they hadn't chosen more artworks for the exhibition and increased the size of the exhibition.

Maybe the absence of David Shepherd has had an impact on those who submit work?

Monochrome on the mezzanine wall


I very much like the new catalogue which, on the pages showing the exhibits, has a more contemporary style and clear labelling of all the exhibits which does not compete with the photograph.

BUT it was badly let down by the Category Introductions. Whoever thought dark coloured inks on a black background communicated well needs to go back to graphic design school and pay particular attention to the concept of CONTRAST! There was none on most of the Introductions and, as a result, I couldn't read a word!

Interestingly I thought some of the artwork looked much better than the photo - and vice versa.

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Less of the same and more cheaper art - or is it?

This year we received a record of 1,326 submissions from artists across 56 different countries
First off I want to say that, as always this is an outstanding exhibition for sculpture - which is wonderful and very varied. It always impresses me and this year did not disappoint.

It seemed on initial impressions - all the work in the one main gallery - like there was less work overall. It's really difficult to count given the way the catalogue is organised without doing a manual count. However the number of submissions were up and it seems as if maybe the number of works exhibited was too.
The exhibition features over 150 finalist pieces selected by our expert judging panel, showcasing a variety of techniques and mediums from recycled plastic sculptures, to intricate pencil drawings, to vast colourful oil paintings, and everything in between.
The reality is that there seem to be many more small and cheaper works than in the past. Maybe this is in recognition that parts of the art market have had a tough time of late but smaller cheaper works still sell well for amounts which won't break the piggy bank.  After all the aim of the exhibition is to sell work to raise funds for conservation.

Not all artwork which impressed at a distance continued to impress  on closer inspection.
What I did notice was that not all the work was the same calibre of work shown in the past - which did very much surprise me. Particularly given the works included in an online gallery are those that the Judges thought

Which leads me to my next question - which is "Who are the Judges?" I've scoured the website and the catalogue and I can find no mention of the names of the Judges. Maybe this has had an impact on the choice of work. I'd like to see a leading name in wildlife art on the Judging Panel each year - to replace the expertise of David Shepherd.

I'd also like to see more about the artists who win prizes on the website. How about getting artists to write a mini profile as happens for other art competitions?

More about Wildlife Artist of the Year (past)


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