Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021 winners announced

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is thrilled to announce the DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021 winners in association with BBC Wildlife magazine. It has been a record-breaking year with over 2,300 entries submitted from over 70 countries. This world-class competition exemplifies the ‘Art of Survival’ legacy of David Shepherd OBE raising vital funds for conservation and creating awareness for biodiversity. DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year was founded in 2008 and since then has raised more than £1.2 million to help support wildlife conservation efforts across Africa and Asia.

A virtual awards ceremony, hosted by DSWF Chief Executive Georgina Lamb, was held last night to announce the winners of DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021. Guests at the event included Emily Lamb (DSWF Art Patron and wildlife Art Ambassador) and Laura Wright (award-winning mezzo-soprano and DSWF Community Ambassador) who gave a stunning performance with some of DSWF’s ground-based conservation teams in Zambia.

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021: Overall winner

Sponsored by Neil & June Covey

Darren Rees “Orcas, Blackfish Sound”

Darren Rees was crowned the overall DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021 winner for his remarkable acrylic painting “Orcas, Blackfish Sound” which was inspired by watching orcas in British Columbia. Melanie Shepherd (DSWF Chairman of the Board of Trustees) commented “the gentleness of the orcas swimming by such a spectacular backdrop reminds us of the beauty of our planet and how vitally important both land and ocean are to our very survival”. Darren has won a £10,000 prize which includes a £5,000 cash prize and a £5,000 conservation voucher for a DSWF species of his choice.

Darren Rees “Orcas, Blackfish Sound”

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021: Overall runner-up

Sponsored by Neil & June Covey

Stella Mays “Fly-By”

Stella Mays was named Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021 overall runner-up for her wonderful “Fly-By” pastel of a polar bear on ice. Watercolour artist Hazel Soan commented it was “a superb composition overall but every square inch is a joy to behold. Look closely at the criss-crossing pastel marks, absorb the colours and energy and you realise you are in the presence of a consummate artist”. Stella wins £2,000 as overall runner-up.

Stella Mays “Fly-By”

Animal Behaviour category winner

Sponsored by Gary Hodges

Szilvia Mate “Father & Son”

Szilvia Mate’s graphite and coloured pencil drawing of Bonobos chimps perfectly captures the relationship between Father and Son. Melanie Shepherd commented the brilliant drawing captures “the very gentle anthropomorphic relationship between the two animals”. Wildlife artist Gary Hodges remarked “there is such an immense feeling of love exuding from this magnificent drawing of our close relatives”.

Szilvia Mate “Father & Son”

Earth’s Wild Beauty category winner

Sponsored by Moore Barlow

Guy Combes “5th Position”

Guy Combes’ oil and acrylic on canvas of a male gerenuk in Kenya won the Earth’s Wild Beauty category. Jamie Rountree (Director, Rountree Tyron Gallery) commented the work is wonderful “interweaving colours and designs into the subject matter of showing animal behaviour. The reaching neck and body lead the eye up and down the painting, willing the subject on to get that delicious, tasty morcel at the top”.

Guy Combes “5th Position”

Facing Extinction category winner

Sponsored by Martin & Emma Leuw

Cole Stirling “Running Towards Extinction”

Cole Stirling’s charcoal drawing explores the fragility of our natural world. DSWF Wildlife Art Ambassador Mandy Shepherd commented “Its black and white format and fine execution has tremendous impact. For me it generates a truly emotional response for the animal itself”.

Cole Stirling “Running Towards Extinction”

Human Impact category winner

In memory of Ingrid Beazley

Alicia Hayden “When the Whale Sang”

Alicia Hayden created “When the Whale Sang” as she wanted to demonstrate the impact of anthropogenic noise pollution on whales and how it is harming their populations. She decided to fragment the whale into sonar noise waves to illustrate the connection between noise pollution and cetaceans.

Artivist and previous Wildlife Artist of the Year winner Martin Aveling commented “Effective wildlife artivism tows a line between beauty and horror, where thought is provoked and messages start to resonate in the mind of the beholder. In this instance we were hooked in by a beautifully executed drawing of a whale but our hearts soon turned cold as it disintegrated into a cacophony of increasingly erratic sound waves. A perfect metaphor for disturbances in communication caused by increased human activity on our oceans.”

Alicia Hayden “When the Whale Sang”

Into The Blue category winner

Sponsored by Paul Traub Associates

Nick Oneill “Blue Squadron”

Nick Oneill created a multi-layered acrylic and resin piece that depicted a shoal of manta rays gliding over a textured metal leaf seabed. Mandy Shepherd described it as a “hugely effective image and such a spontaneous and technically perfect artwork. Once again Oneill proves his expertise in his use of mixed medium and originality”.

Nick Oneill “Blue Squadron”

Urban Wildlife category winner

Shannon Reynolds “Who Invited Him?”

Urban pigeons regard a starling interloper on their carefully guarded lamppost perch in this oil painting on panel. Hazel Soan commented “This exceedingly pleasing exudes charm, light and wit and turns a mundane streetlamp and its ordinary visitors into celebrities. Conservationists might not put pigeons at the top of their list but this successful rendition reminds us that every creature is valuable and that humans and wildlife can live alongside each other successfully.”

Shannon Reynolds “Who Invited Him?”

Wings category winner

Sponsored by Silver Surfers

Matthew Polluk “Migration”

Matthew’s painting in metallic paint, pen, ink and 18ct lemon gold leaf captures the phenomenal spectacle of the annual geese migration as they journey thousands of miles to warmer climates and evade the bitter thores of winter in the northern hemisphere. Melanie Shepherd commented “Matthew has captured the wonderful sight of a skein of geese in such a unique and unusual way and the image draws the viewer inwards to this incredible view of our planet that we must protect”.

Matthew Polluk “Migration”

Elizabeth Hosking Prize for Watercolour winner

Sponsored by Elizabeth Hosking

Jungi Jang “Trapped”

Neon hues allude to artificial substances and blue rays display a confined underwater environment. Turquoise lines sorrowfully transform into a fishnet that pulls back and drastically cuts down marine mammals’ lifespan. Elizabeth Hosking described Jungi Jang’s watercolour as beautifully executed with the technique and colouring encapsulating both the abstract and the figurative in a clever image. She added “Not only is this painting a striking work of art but it carries an important message about our stewardship of the planet to its audience and thereby also captures the essence of DSWF’s purpose on Earth”.

Jungi Jang “Trapped”

BBC Wildlife Magazine Editor’s Choice winner

Sponsored by BBC Wildlife magazine

Pascal Chesneau “Banquise”

Pascal created a sculpture made from shaped, welded metal for his “Banquise” piece. Born in Britain, Pascal was winner of the Wildlife Artist of the Year 3D category with this sculpture another appearance of metal which is lighter and more transparent.

Pascal Chesneau “Banquise”

The Artist magazine Editor’s Choice winner

Sponsored by The Artist magazine

Hilary Kington “Curlew in the Estuary – But for How Long?”

Hilary’s inscribed woodcut print has muted colours, soft curves and patterns of the slat marsh, Words narrating the uncertain fate of the curlew are scribed into the wet ink. This elegant bird with its evocative call is now on the brink of extinction, given the same near threatened status as the jaguar.

The Artist Editor commented “I love to see this tall, elegant and iconic bird striding across the mud flats in the salt marshes. It’s incredibly sad that they are in such serious decline so Hilary’s obvious passion for capturing the curlew in its wild habitat, as encapsulated by this image in particular, truly resonated with me. I love the simplicity of her design, the beautiful muted colours so typical of the natural environment in which this bird lives, and the inscribed messages highlighting its plight.”

Hilary Kington “Curlew in the Estuary – But for How Long?”

David Shepherd Art of Survival Award

Finally, we have a new award for 2021 in homage to our Founder, David Shepherd OBE, and our ‘Art of Survival’ legacy which the David Shepherd Art of Survival Award represents. Each year this award seeks to honour and celebrate an exceptional artist that uses art to help support DSWF in our mission to protect wildlife and end wildlife crime. This special prize is in recognition of a supporting artist who has gone above and beyond the creation of art alone by using their work to celebrate and promote positive change, challenge alternative views and difficult topics, celebrated and promoted our work and raised funds for the natural world. This is a prize David would have wholeheartedly supported and championed.

The first recipient of this new award is wildlife “artivist” Martin Aveling. He wins a ten day visit to DSWF’s ground based conservation partners in Zambia to explore our conservation efforts first-hand and witness how art really is helping keep wildlife safe and the wilderness protected. 

Martin Aveling “Plenty More Fish In The Sea”

All artworks shortlisted in this year’s exhibition, together with unique artworks from selected guest artists, are now available to purchase with 50% of the proceeds from all sales going to support the conservation efforts of DSWF in our mission to turn the tide on extinction.

Our virtual gallery experience is open until 29th June 2021 and we have a series of art events running on the 1st, 15th and 22nd of June 2021. These include an artist panel with wildlife ‘artavist’ Martin Aveling, an exclusive workshop with watercolour artist and judge Hazel Soan and a special talk by Mandy Shepherd on the legacy of David Shepherd OBE with insights into her own work.