Friday, April 02, 2021

The Natural Eye Bursary 2021 - Call for Entries

The Society of Wildlife Artists has published its Call for Entries for The Natural Eye Bursary 2021 
The deadline for entries is 1st June 2021 - so plenty of time to prepare an application.

What is The Natural Eye Bursary?

The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) offers this Bursary each year to artists aged 16 and over who are interested in portraying wildlife in art.
the selectors are looking for proposals that demonstrate a sense of enquiry into the natural world through original and thoughtful creativity that will result in a genuine artistic and personal response to the wildlife subject.


What is on offer?

The award has two components:
  • Awards of up to £750 are available to artists submitting exceptional proposals that focus on wildlife as a main subject to:
    • carry out independent projects, 
    • develop research - involving artwork
    • or training in art practices .
  • Successful applicants also have the opportunity to 
    • exhibit an example (or examples) of their bursary work during The Natural Eye exhibition held annually at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London’s West End
    • have their report of their project published on the SWLA website.
In addition
  • several past bursary winners have gone on to become active members of the SWLA 
  • the bursary has helped with exhibition opportunities and professional relationships that continue into the future
  • most award winners have continued to diversify in the arts, often citing their bursary project as a pivotal moment in their practice. 
I was immersed in nature for a month, observing wildlife every day and for the first time learning to identify those methods of field drawing that work for me
CHRISTOPHER WALLBANK Bursary Winner 2008 - Read his report 
Urban Black Kites of Delhi by Chris Wallbank (won 2008)
- a subsequent project - as exhibited 10 years later in the SWLA Annual Exhibition in 2018

Essentially, it's an opportunity to demonstrate your interests, the scope of your enquiry and the knowledge, skills, talent and innovation that you bring to bear on creating a focused piece of research and artwork.
Christopher Wallbank (bursary winner 2008) discovered his fascination for combining art with ecology during his project drawing the wildlife of two extremes, depth and altitude, in the Bay of Biscay and Picos de Europa mountain range. He has since gone on to collaborate with several field-based conservation projects, including the long-term monitoring of guillemots, the preservation of urban black kites and as an SWLA member on the Wallasea and Wadensea projects. 
Green Bridge Loomery by Chris Wallbank

What are selectors looking for?

Successful proposals will reflect the SWLA’s main ethos to generate appreciation and delight in the natural world through fine art.
The current context changes the bursary slightly this year:
  • Both the Pandemic and the subsequent lockdown(s) has meant that many more artists have found inspiration in nature. 
  • However they also been limited in how far they can travel - and many in the UK are still limited by how far they can move away from their local area.
Many of the society’s members and associates working under lockdown restrictions have demonstrated how successfully artistic enquiry can capture the awe and wonder found in nature without the need to travel to exotic corners of the world.
Consequently in 2021, the SWLA have very sensibly suggested that they are particularly interested in proposals that 
  • either celebrate the wildlife found close to home
  • and/or projects by artists who have, perhaps for the first time, discovered a new focus for their work by engaging more with the natural world. 
That does not exclude other proposals - but the focus enables a much clearer focus on wildlife near people's own homes than hitherto.

Previous Bursary Awards

Previous bursary work has included a wide range of different media including; 
  • drawing, 
  • sculpture, 
  • painting, 
  • online journals, 
  • artist’s book-works and 
  • installation.  
Successful bursary projects have focused on one (or more) aspects - see below
  • many document their experience of wildlife first hand - by working from observation in the field. 
  • artistic development through education and building practical skills e.g. Gareth Williams’ bursary award enabled him to join a print studio for a year and develop his observations of wildlife through print making.
I was able to learn this entirely new way of working, which gave my work a new visual language and, complimented my style
  • research resulting in remarkable portfolios of work on display at The Natural Eye Exhibition. 
The resultant 2008 exhibition gave me the opportunity to invite peers and contemporaries to see my installation at the gallery — a great space — which led to an invitation to exhibit the work at "The Animal Gaze: Contemporary Art & Animal/​Human Studies" — Whitechapel
HELEN J. BULLARD, THE NATURAL EYE BURSARY WINNER 2006, 2007 - read about her 2007 project and her 2006 project


How to apply for a Natural Eye Bursary Award

Who is eligible?

We are looking for talent and fine artists who would benefit from the bursary.
Harriet Mead, President of the Society of Wildlife Artists
  • Only artist’s aged 18 or over are eligible to apply for a bursary award.
  • Applications are open to artists working in any medium.

What projects are eligible?

  • Only project proposals based on or representing wildlife subjects are admissible.

How to apply?

Applications are made via a proposal for a project an online application form.

To apply for The Natural Eye Bursary, you should 
Deadline for applications is Tuesday, 1 June 2021.

What must the proposal for a project contain?

Selectors are looking for proposals that connect with the Society’s ethos to promote fine art that evokes the spirit of nature. Proposals should demonstrate a genuine sense of enquiry into a wildlife subject which shows a personal, artistic response to the subject matter of the natural world. The proposed project should demonstrate originality in its ideas and approaches. Candidates should strive for a level of ambition and depth to their proposal, it should go further than a request to cover travel expenses to exotic locations.
Proposed projects MUST:
  • be based on wildlife as a subject (i.e. this excludes domesticated animals and subjects that are exclusively botanical)
  • provide information about 
    • the intended outcomes of the project in terms of artwork produced and 
    • what format the artwork might take.
  • indicate how your project would benefit you as an artist e.g. 
    • continuing professional development. 
    • benefit conservation 
    • benefit communities
  • detail how you propose to spend the award including:
    • a breakdown of your total expenses, 
    • expenses may include travel costs, materials, accommodation, studio fees etc. 
    • all sums included should be as accurate as possible (i.e. do not speculate - do the research!)
  • INCLUDE seven good quality / high resolution JPEG images (no bigger than 1MB each) which you consider to represent your practice. 
    • Include examples of work with wildlife and/​or natural world subjects.
    • Label file names in the following format: Surname_​Title of work_​medium (e.g matisse_l’escargot_collage).
  • INCLUDE the name and contact details of a referee as part of the application. This can be an educator or a colleague.

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