Home News Wildlife Artist of the Year DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year – Winner’s and Highlights

DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year – Winner’s and Highlights

So, as we mark the end of the 15th David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation Wildlife Artist of the Year competition (WAY), as well as our 40th anniversary, and not to forget #WAYWednesday, we’re bringing you a roundup of all the winners and highlights from this year’s competition.

A huge thank you to our esteemed and dedicated judging panel. From left to right: Georgia Lamb, Gary Hodges, Mandy Shepherd, Will Fortescue, Emily Lamb, Karrie Goldberg, Rita Alay Libera Del Curto Askenasy, and Wendy Feess.

Let’s start with the categories.

Abstract World

Abstract World is a relatively new category for WAY, only in its second year. Abstract art is often seen as being able to carry a weightier moral dimension, combining simple themes of purity and spirituality. Since the early 1900s, it has formed a central stream in modern art, and it now forms a challenging and progressive category at the heart of Wildlife Artist of the Year.

In the Abstract World category, the visual language of shape, form, colour, and line are used to leave those viewing and experiencing it with profound meaning. Jackson Pollock described it as “energy and motion made visible”.

Abstract World enables artists who express themselves non-figuratively to capture the beauty and fragility of our world and its wildlife, stimulating our imaginations with thought-provoking works.

The abstract process opens a door for pure and raw displays of feeling and freedom, enabling an entirely new dynamism to become a centric part of the competition.

The winner was ‘Broken Home’ by Maxine Sheaffer. This stunning acrylic on glass draws you in from afar. Emily Lamb, artist and environmental activist, former art patron to DSWF, and David Shepherd’s granddaughter, had this to say on behalf of the judges.

Simply stunning! What a creative piece of work. Depth, texture, and colour – all alluring and delicious. And that’s before one has even seen the polar bear – genius!”

Our warmest thanks to Abstract World’s category sponsors, Amanda and Barry Butler.

Broken Home was also selected for a further award – The Artist Magazine Editor’s Choice Award.

Animal Behaviour

Accurately interpreting and recording animal behaviour is key to gaining a stronger understanding of species-level conservation issues. And capturing animal behaviour in art enables us to gain a new level of insight and understanding into their worlds.

We used to think nature was red in tooth and claw. Yet we now know it has its moments of tenderness, joy, companionship, and family, as well as drama and strife. And we know many species can express themselves with stunning individuality and character.

The Animal Behaviour Category is a window into the wild world and the challenges it faces – from the rawest needs to feed and mate, to intricate interactions that reflect intelligence and emotion.

The winner was Sophie Niemann with her piece ‘Ethereal Stalker’.

Mandy Shepherd, artist and daughter of David Shepherd, summed up the judges’ thoughts.

This piece is a truly deserving winner of this category for both the Title and inspired execution of embroidery on watercolour. It is so delicate in nature and so beautifully thought out. A lovely work of art”.

Sophie with her piece ‘Ethereal Stalker’.

Many thanks to BSW Renewable Energy for sponsoring Animal Behaviour in 2024.

Into the Blue

Life likely started in our oceans. The world of water is home to some of the most intelligent, incredible, and mysterious creatures on the planet. And water shapes some of our most diverse and dramatic landscapes.

Yet, from microplastics and mercury drifting unseen and polluting entire ecosystems to overfishing and oil leaks, even their deepest, darkest depths aren’t untouched by human encroachment.

By capturing their rugged and challenging beauty, artists can take us to places seen and experienced by few and introduce us to species almost considered alien.

From rivers, streams, and wetlands to continents of ice and vast oceans, the Into the Blue category invites artists to celebrate these dynamic landscapes and the species that call them home.

And the winner was Tom Middleton, with ‘Fever Pitch’.

Gary Hodges, best-selling and award-winning pencil artist, as well as long-term Wildlife Artist of the Year judge, had this to say.

Amazing depth, perspective, movement and with a simple point well considered!”

Tom with his piece ‘Fever Pitch’.

And we’d like to thank Paul Traub Associates for their generous sponsorship.

Earth’s Wild Beauty

We believe that the most important message we can convey in conservation is one of hope. There are many serious challenges to overcome and the threat to wildlife has never been greater. Yet, we can find hope in Earth’s wild beauty – an active reminder of what we’re working so hard to protect.

Our wildernesses are still filled with unbridled wonder. Nature has invited us to celebrate its rich tapestry of life, providing us with stunning inspiration at every turn; from dynamic vistas and vibrant forests to the subtlest mottling of a hummingbird’s feather or a moth’s wing.

There is no planet B. But the one we have is enough and not beyond hope. We share its wild spaces with incredible and beautiful lifeforms not just surviving the extremes of nature but wondrously adapting to do so.

The Earth’s Wild Beauty category is a celebration of Earth’s wild landscapes and seascapes, and all that live in them.

The winner was Emma Price, with ‘Burning Within’.

Georgina Lamb, CEO of DSWF, reflected on how it stood out to the judges.

“Emma’s stunning, turner-esque portrayal of a wildfire and the increasing intensity is a stunning portrayal of a very real issue. You can feel the heat burning off the canvas as you are drawn into this incredible painting”.

Emma with her piece ‘Burning Within’.

A huge thank you to Opalore, for sponsoring Earth’s Wild Beauty in 2024.

Environmental Artivism

Art and activism have a long history of coming together as a tool for change. In fact, studies have shown that artivism is more effective than traditional activism, as the messaging is often more memorable, and audiences are more receptive to it.

From the protest art of the 1960s to Banksy, artivism breaks down sociopolitical barriers and demands reform – making it a powerful platform in conservation and an equally powerful category in Wildlife Artist of the Year.

The Environmental Artivism category challenges both artists and audiences alike to visualize the starkest, most controversial, and most uncomfortable truths about our interactions with wildlife and what humans are doing to the planet. Whether translated viscerally or more subtly, it invites honest discussion by bringing these issues to the forefront of artistic interpretation.

This year’s winner is Martin Aveling, with his striking piece ‘At What Cost’.

Mandy Shepherd had this to say.

“The art of literal thinking is beautifully and expertly translated in this pastel combining  art and activism. It is today’s news and the message simple and impact important. Martin has great technical skill to achieve this.”

We’d like to thank Derwent for their incredible support of the 2024 Wildlife Artist of the Year competition, including sponsoring the Environmental Artivism category.

Facing Extinction

The world is experiencing its sixth mass extinction. But unlike those that have come before, it is being driven by human activity. This unprecedented decline has resulted in nearly 700 vertebrate species vanishing forever since the 16th century. Today, thousands more stand on the precipice – facing extinction.

Habitat destruction, the illegal wildlife trade, human-wildlife conflict, pollution, the climate crisis… species around the world face threats to their survival on multiple fronts.

The Facing Extinction category invites artists to place focus on the world’s most vulnerable species and champion them. To give them a voice and a renewed place in a world growing smaller and less biodiverse by the day.

All this is reflected in this year’s winning piece, ‘Elephant’, by Sadie Aucott.

Karrie Goldberg, co-founder of Outernet and founder of The Kagency, echoed the judges’ appreciation.

What an incredible piece of art. To work with wire and create something just so lifelike, an unimaginable approach to capturing the beauty of the elephant. The texture, the depth, the clever tusk – something I could look at everyday”.

Heartfelt thanks go to Martin and Emma Leuw for their category sponsorship.

Wings

Perhaps nothing inspires the imagination more than the concept of powered flight. Even NASA take inspiration from nature – reminding all visiting the space centre that “aerodynamically, the body of a bee is not made to fly; the good thing is the bee does not know.”

Some dinosaurs escaped their fate when they took to the air and became the birds of today. Flying insects changed the course of plant evolution. Fish able to leap and glide above the ocean learnt how to evade predators. Whilst snakes and lizards flitting from tree to tree chased down even the most agile prey. Even mammals conquered the night by taking to the wing.

The Wings category celebrates the extraordinary variety of winged wildlife on our planet, including birds, bats, insects, reptiles, and more.

Perhaps fittingly, this year’s winner is Radka Kirby Tesaro, and her piece ‘Wings’.

Emily Lamb has this to say.

A true expression of life on the water in Africa. The flow and balance, masterful. Line, colour, and form, the perfect storytelling framework”.

Radka with her piece ‘Wings’.

Our thanks to Studio Ngong for their steadfast support and sponsorship.

Youth Exclusive

The Youth Exclusive Award showcases the wealth of creative new talent emerging into the world of conservation and wildlife art. Together, we can create a new and courageous ambassadorship into the world of wildlife art by championing those who will become the outstanding talents of tomorrow.

With an open brief to create something true to their passion and vision that reflects the natural world, this is one of our most fluid and engaging categories. From showcasing human impact on our fragile world and wildlife to capturing the raw beauty and devastation of nature, the wild world is their metaphoric canvas.

The Youth Exclusive category is sponsored in memory of Ingrid Beazley.

Our 2024 winner is Jeongyun Park, and their piece ‘Spoonbill’.

The Elizabeth Hosking Watercolour Award’

Congratulations to the winner, Brett Blumenthal, and her piece ‘Time to Breathe’.

Brett with her piece ‘Time to Breathe’.

The Michelle Lee Howk First Time Entrants Award

A huge achievement for the winner, Leo Pacquelet, and the sculpture ‘Orangutan’.

Leo with his piece ‘Orangutan’.

David Shepherd Art of Survival Award

This special award celebrating all that DSWF represents goes to Stephen Rew. Thank you to Nigel and Vicki Colne for sponsoring this special award.

Overall Runner Up

Our overall runner up was Aki Mimura, and the stunning sculpture, ‘Guardian of the Forest’.

Rita Alay Libera Del Curto Askenasy, Art Sales Director at MTArt Agency, reflected on the piece.

I voted for Aki Mimura’s limestone sculpture, ‘Guardian of the Forest,’ as the overall winner of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation 2024 Wildlife Artist of the Year award, because it masterfully embodies both classical elegance and contemporary vitality. I am thrilled to see so many women artists excelling and leading in each category, showcasing their incredible talent and vision. As someone who always advises collectors on the significance of including sculpture in their collections, Mimura’s work stands out as a timeless piece that resonates deeply with the spirit of both tradition and innovation”.

Aki with her piece ‘Guardian of the Forest’.

Our thanks to Neil and June Covey for their supporting sponsorship for both our runner up and overall winner prizes.

Overall Winner

And without further ado, we are pleased to bring you our Wildlife Artist of the Year 2024 – Sarah Lake, and her intrinsically laced paper cut piece, ‘Jara’.

Karrie Goldberg was just one of the judges pleased to see Sarah triumph after winning the Wings category last year.

I am thrilled to see Sarah Lake back again this year, so much so that it’s my 2nd year commenting on her work. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before, the style is unique and the attention to detail second to none. It’s beautiful and provocative and awe inspiring. To think how one would even start with this process is mind boggling. From afar, it could be a photograph and up close you are lost in the layers and layers of intricate paperwork. You see something different from every angle…Just one of a kind!

Sarah with her piece ‘Jara’.

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2025

You can view the entire online exhibition here. You can also shop our brilliant #SketchForWildlife selection of Mini Masters here.

We are thrilled to announce that our DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2025 competition will be opening for entries once again in early January. We do hope to see as many of our incredible artists entering again as possible, and the team very much look forward to next year already!

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