Thursday, July 08, 2021

Call for Entries: Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition 2021

If you want to enter the Annual Exhibition by the Society of Wildlife Artists the deadline for entries is Friday 20 August, 12 noon

Last year's SWLA Annual Exhibition

The images in this blog post are from last year's annual exhibition.

Call for Entries

It's just under a year since the last time I wrote a Call for Entries for this annual exhibition - when we weren't too sure whether it would be held. In the end it had the close early

Hopefully this year it will the normal exhibition at the normal time for the normal number of days.However there's a pretty good chance I won't see it if I have my surgery before it opens.

Anyway - back to what you need to know

Artwork in the West Gallery


Online Selection Only - digital images essential

Artists need to be aware that their artwork will be judged on the basis of the digital image submitted - and NOT on the actual artwork itself - as selection by the Panel will be done remotely and online.

So it doesn't matter how good your artwork is if you don't produce a decent digital image for submission......

This means 

  • don't create a small image at a high (print quality) resolution - as it will only be viewed on a screen. 
  • Instead, create a large image at an OK resolution i.e. all detail is crisp and clear

If you're not confident about producing decent digital images see my guides:


If you've not submitted before the best thing to do is VISIT the show first.

The next best thing is to REVIEW
  • the online catalogues - which includes photos of members' artwork
  • my blog posts reviewing past exhibitions (see end) which provide LOTS of images of artwork selected for the show from the open entry as well as artwork by members 
  • artworks in last year' exhibition 

Who can enter?

Artists are invited to submit work for exhibition alongside members of the Society of Wildlife Artists at their 58th Annual Exhibition, The Natural Eye 2021

The 58th Annual Open Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists is open to non-members and there's always a good number selected and hung throughout the exhibition.

In addition, it's open to artists from outside the UK - and every year we see entries from international artists selected for the exhibition.

What can you enter?

The Selection Committee of the SWLA seeks to encourage all forms of three and two-dimensional artwork (see Acceptable media’ below) that is based on representing the world’s wildlife. The Committee is particularly keen to encourage all artists with fresh visions to submit work to the Annual Exhibition that shows imagination, artistic ability, originality and genuine creativity.

The Committee is seeking work that evokes the spirit of the natural world and which reveals a personal experience or true understanding of the subject. 

The SWLA produce a very helpful page of guidance - Exhibit with us - for all those interested in entering - and if you pay particular attention to what it has to say - and produce good quality work - then you should have a good chance of being selected.

In terms of subject

Works depicting domestic, captive or zoo animals or purely botanical subjects are not permissible. Wildlife includes any non-domestic animal such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, crustaceans and insects.

Works depicting wildlife divorced from its environment or without place, setting or context are rejected in many cases. Biological or scientific illustrations are in most cases not permissible.

In terms of media

Work may be in any medium including painting, sculpture and original prints 
SWLA 2020 - West Gallery

What the SWLA does NOT like

In summary:

  • direct copies of photos - as opposed to artwork which is based on observation of the subject in its habitat and uses reference photos to supplement the studies made in the field
  • subjects divorced from their habitat - the habitat is an important context but this is exhibition is NOT about scientific illustration with a white background
  • subjects not observed in the field by the artist i.e. the artist is assumed to have access to the subject animal, bird, fish etc. This is shorthand for "you're unlikely to see a snow leopard in this exhibition!". As a result, although some artists do travel to find their subject, the exhibition includes a lot of wildlife that is native to the UK.
  • Artwork which is presented badly as a digital image 
  • Jarring presentations. The SWLA has a very distinct preference for 
    • neutral mounts and frames and is unlikely to look with unalloyed pleasure on any artwork displayed in a "look at me" way. 
    • which is complementary to the rest of the exhibition rather than artwork which is disruptive within the exhibition - due to the way it is presented

I'd go so far as to say if your artwork "looks like" you're somebody who likes working from (other people's) photographs in a studio and you have never ever seen and studied the animal in the wild it's unlikely that your artwork will be selected. (my call for entries post last year)
East Gallery

Work will not be accepted IF it meets one or more of the following criteria

  • NOT for sale
  • NOT completely dry
  • NOT completed within the last three years
  • a scientific illustration
  • larger than 2.4m along the longest dimension
  • previously exhibited in London
  • a botanical subject
  • portrayal of pets and/or domestic animals,
  • subject separated from its habitat
  • decorative wares (such as vessels or tiles),
  • work in metal frames, poorly framed or badly presented.
  • Photographic reproductions or mechanical prints, giclĂ©e prints of original artwork etc., (i.e. DIGITAL COPIES which are often promoted as ‘limited edition prints’ are NOT acceptable) - but also see below re eligible media.


Number and size of artwork

  • Maximum of six works submitted. Maximum of six works selected
  • Works should not be larger than 2.4m along the longest dimension.


  • All work must be for sale.
  • The price of works must include commission of 45%+VAT
  • Where foundry fees apply, these will be deducted before commission is calculated
  • Minimum price: £200 (except for prints: framed £120, unframed £95).

How to Enter

The SWLA call for entries is administered by the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries and 
  • you can find more information below and on their website
  • for full terms and conditions of entry see
  • Submission fee
    £20 per work at the time of submitting (£14 per work for artists aged 35 or under)  
  • Upload images of work at between Monday 21 June and Friday 20 August, 12 noon [Note: Images must be in JPEG format and under 5MB]
  • Check on Friday 3 September, from 12 noon, to see if your work has been selected for exhibition
  • If selected, deliver your work on Friday 8 October, 10am to 5pm, to Mall Galleries, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5BD

Prizes & Awards

There are a number of awards.

  • The Birdwatch and Swarovski Optik Artist of the Year Award: A prize of an ATS 80 HD spotting scope with 25-50x zoom eyepiece (with a value of £2,430), plus subscription to BirdGuides/Birdwatch
  • RSPB Award: £500
  • Larson-Juhl Award: To celebrate drawing or dry media, draughtsmanship and capturing ideas as an art form, £500 worth of Larson-Juhl materials to the winner and a feature in their '4Walls' magazine
  • The BIRDscapes Gallery Conservation through Art Award: £700 divided equally between 
    • the winning artist and 
    • a conservation organisation or project of their choice
  • Dry Red Press Award: The winning work reproduced as a greetings card

East Gallery







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