Sculpting a future for wildlife
Written by Nick Mackman
My work as a sculptor is inspired by my life-long love of animals. This goes back to my childhood and the experience of getting my first dog. Today my art is a continually evolving exploration of animal behaviour. It always starts with my subject. What is it doing? What is it feeling? What’s the story? It’s this emotional connection that gives depth and meaning to my sculpture.
But there’s another story. A bigger story. One most of us know all too well. A story of climate change, habitat destruction, environmental degradation, over-exploitation and, ultimately, extinction. Nothing terrifies me more than the possibility of losing the very animals I have spent my life studying and sculpting. And so over the years I’ve become something else, something more than an artist. A conservationist. An activist even. Because no-one who loves animals can simply stand by and do nothing. It’s up to all of us to do whatever we can to make a difference.
This is why it’s so important for me to support wildlife conservation. It isn’t just my livelihood. It’s a defining and essential part of my life. For the last twenty years or so I’ve been in the fortunate position to be able to use my art to support wildlife conservation. My involvement with DSWF started when I began donating sculptures to be auctioned at charity events to raise much needed funds to support their work.
Then, when DSWF launched their Wildlife Artist of the Year competition, I realised there was another opportunity. Through the competition I could promote the highly endangered but less well-known animals that are often most at risk. Animals like the pangolin and the painted (or wild) dog. Simply raising awareness of these incredible creatures, that many people might dismiss as strange or even ugly, is vital. Without wide public support, organisations like DSWF won’t be able to continue their essential work.
Winning the DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year competition in 2015 with my group of baby warthogs, Sleepyheads, is the highlight of my professional career to date. It was truly humbling to think that my work had been selected from all the incredible works of art on display in the exhibition. The fact that it was the humble and often overlooked wartie that won on the day was particularly gratifying.
My association with wildlife conservation is a lifelong commitment. I continue to support DSWF through the competition, through sales, online and on social media. I even got on my bike and cycled the London 100 in support of the cause. It’s all part of the story. The story of my art. The story of the wild animals that have become such an important part of my life. Long may it continue.
Throughout August and September, Nick’s artwork will be available to purchase via our online shop, with 50% of proceeds supporting DSWF’s vital conservation work across Africa and Asia.