2017 winners of Wildlife Artist of the Year
Stunning watercolour walrus scoops £10,000 wildlife art prize for Scottish artist Claire Harkess
It was a wonderful night for wildlife as our 2017 Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition opened with a private view and awards evening at the Mall Galleries in London on Tuesday 27 June. The breath-taking collection of works that celebrate and champion endangered species is a stunning and stark reminder of how much we could lose if we do not protect the natural world and its wildlife.
“The faces of various different endangered species gaze off the wall, their eyes front-and-centre, piercing right through you. All around the room, pairs of vibrant eyeballs demand your attention. Together, they create a powerful and sobering effect,” wrote Chris Fitch in his review in Geographical Magazine
Selecting winners from this beautiful collection was not an easy task but the judges were unanimous and it was Claire Harkess’ watercolour entitled ‘Walrus of MagdeleneFjord I’ (pictured above) that stole their hearts. The work not only took the Wildlife Artist of the Year title but was independently selected by the editor of The Artist Magazine, Dr Sally Bulgin, as her winner too.
“Watercolour is a difficult medium to master but Claire Harkess has expressed the qualities beautifully with an economy of colour to create a very understated but powerful work,” said Dr Bulgin.
“The winning artists came from across the UK and around the world with many attending the event last night from South Africa and Australia. We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the artists, sponsors, judges and buyers who help make this such a special occasion for wildlife,” said DSWF’s Sally Case.
As the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundations’ (DSWF) 2017 Wildlife Artist of the Year – Claire Harkess received the £10,000 top prize and, as winner of The Artist Magazine, editors choice award, will be featured in an edition of the magazine this autumn.
Commenting on the winning piece the judges said: “Despite the softness of the painting it captures the weight and character of the animal and a real sense of place.”
Out of communication until Thursday, Claire returned home to a string of messages and was worried that perhaps her work had arrived damaged at the gallery. “What a great surprise. It is a huge honour to receive the DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year and ‘The Artist Magazine’ award. Wildlife conservation is crucial. To be able to highlight this through making art is a great way of keeping it in the spotlight, raising awareness and allowing us to marvel at the wonders around us. Many thanks to all the judges.” she said.
Claire grew up on the West Coast of Scotland and graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1993. Wildlife and the Natural World are predominant in her work and since being Artist-in-Residence at Edinburgh Zoo in 1998 she has travelled extensively, gathering material for her paintings – Antarctica, The Galápagos Islands, Australia, the Caribbean, St Kilda, Kenya and India. An elected member of RSW (Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour) she exhibits widely throughout the UK. In 2011 Claire was Overall Runner-up in WAY competition. She currently lives and works in Perth, Scotland.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2017, the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition brings together the world’s best wildlife artists exploring seven exciting categories. From Earth’s Beautiful Creatures to Urban Wildlife more than 130 original works challenge preconceptions of wildlife art.
Full winners list:
Overall £10,000 sponsored by Mr & Mrs Covey:
Claire Harkess – Walrus of Magdalene Fjord I – Watercolour
Runner up £1,000
David Cooke – Orangutan – life size bronze
The judges said: This striking piece dramatically captures the character of the species – it is full of pathos – depicting a species that is literally hanging on
Animal Behaviour – a real understanding of animal behaviour and a sense of character.
Category Winner: Peter Stewart – Dazzle and Dust
The judges said: we loved the atmospheric use of light and the beautiful composition.
Earth’s Beautiful Creatures – beautifully executed original artworks but also imaginative interpretation, moving away from the purely photographic to compositions with great characterisation, showing imagination, originality and genuine creativity. Sponsored by Gary Hodges on behalf of Joan Morley.
Category Winner: Corinne Zollinger – Weathered – clay with a rust patina
The judges said: This is a stunning little piece with clever use of patina to convey atmosphere
Hidden World – a celebration of remote and rarely observed or lesser known landscapes and species. Presented in memory of Derek Francis.
Category Winner: Brooke Walker – Okapia Johnstoni
The judges said: A beautifully textural image that gives a glimpse into the life and habitat of a rare species.
Into the Blue – illustrating the wonderful world of water, be it ocean, seashore, wetland, river or stream. Sponsored by Barlow Robbins.
Category Winner: Matthew Polluk – The Eloquence of Seduction
The judges said: Gorgeous tones with a real sense of being underwater with sparkles of light – it has a fantastic sense of freedom and scale of movement.
Urban Wildlife – entries in an urban style or depicting the city life of animals and plants. Judges were looking for both originality in the habitat as well as the contrast between wild and urban life.
Category Winner: Paul Hawdon – Double Glazing
The judges said: Completely pared down – this really is a case of less is more – beautifully composed and well executed demonstrating great skill as an etcher.
Vanishing Fast – showing our vanishing world – it can be any species officially listed as endangered or threatened on the IUCN Red List – or any a landscape that is at risk. Sponsored by Barlow Robbins. Category Winner: Atsushi Harada – Tomorrow
The judges said: With a beautiful sense of stillness – it draws you in to the subject and makes you connect – a soft and poignant portrayal of this endangered big cat.
Wings, Feathered or Otherwise –the extraordinary variety of winged wildlife – birds and insects, in flight or at rest. Sponsored by Barlow Robbins
Category Winner: Pascal Chesneau – Manchots Empereur
The judges said: Instantly recognisable the sculpture shows the noisy interaction of the animals caught in the moment.
The Artist Magazine Award – selected by the editor of The Artist Magazine, Dr Sally Bulgin (feature article for the successful artist in The Artist magazine)
Category Winner: Claire Harkess – Walrus of Magdalene Fjord I – Watercolour (chosen independently of the main judging panel)
What Dr Sally Bulgin said:
Watercolour is a very difficult medium to master but Claire Harkess has expressed the qualities beautifully with an economy of colour to create a very understated but powerful work. I love the creation of shapes in the lower part of the picture and the quality of the watercolour in drips and splashes; the deckle edges mean that you see the painting as an object in its own right. Claire has a love of her materials which shines through with exquisite draughtsmanship and quality – and a sense of humour in expression of the walrus. The artist has left the happy accidents and drips so that we enjoy the paint as much as the wildlife she’s depicting.
David Hadaway – Juvenile Crowned Eagle
Tony Feld – Hippo Pool
Sophie Louise White – Kingfishers, Halcyon Days
Marie Antoniou – Barbary Macaque
Dagna Gmitrowicz – The Moment Frozen in Plastic
Nick Oneill – Tranquillity
David Cowdry – Don’t Tell Him Pike
Gemma Hayward – Lappet Faced Vulture – A Study
Szabolcs Kokay – Displaying Raggiana Birds of Paradise
Claudia Hahn – Crowned Cranes
Martin Aveling – Twocans
Fernando Garcia Herrara – Future
Nick Oneill – Reef Shark
Karen Phillips – Kabu
Paul Fearn – River Reflections
Tom Shepherd – Rainbow Remedy
Category winners each receive £500
Overall runner up receives £1,000
Overall winner receives £10,000 generously sponsored by Mr & Mrs Covey
Week of Wildlife Art – The Mall Galleries, SW1
Wednesday June 28 – Sunday July 2 – Public Opening Times – 10am to 5pm (4pm Saturday – 1pm Sunday), entry by donation.
All art is available to buy either at the Mall Galleries or online by clicking here with proceeds supporting wildlife conservation projects across Africa and Asia.
About Wildlife Artist of the Year & the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF)
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s (DSWF) annual Wildlife Artist of the Year competition has become a major event in the artists and art-buyers calendar. Attracting artists from around the world, 2017 is the competition’s tenth year.
The competition forms the heart of the charity’s week of wildlife art at the Mall Galleries, London SW1 and is complemented each year with original works from supporting artists. In 2017, this includes The Bigger Picture a stunning collection of art, photography and film gathered on the frontline of conservation by the award-winning team who shadowed special anti-poaching teams in Zambia earlier this year. The DSWF Collection also brings together wonderful original art and limited edition prints from three generations of the Shepherd family (David Shepherd, Mandy Shepherd and Emily Lamb) and a host of talented wildlife artists.
Since it began, the event has raised more than £350,000 for conservation projects supported by David’s eponymous wildlife charity.
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is a UK registered charity (1106893) working to protect endangered mammals in the wild.
About Wildlife Artist of the Year 2017
The annual David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Week of Wildlife Art returns to the Mall Galleries, London this summer with a stunning exhibition of original art. From June 28 to July 2 the galleries will be flooded with the colour and form of the natural world celebrated in a wide range of media including oils, watercolour, bronze and ceramic.
Forming the heart of the exhibition is the shortlist for the 2017 Wildlife Artist of the Year prize. Launched in 2007 to raise awareness and funds for endangered wildlife, the competition brings together the world’s best wildlife artists exploring seven exciting categories. From Earth’s Beautiful Creatures to Urban Wildlife more than 130 original works will challenge preconceptions of wildlife art.
“The sheer diversity of media and form this year has created an extraordinary celebration of the natural world and a huge challenge for the judges,” says DSWF Founder, David Shepherd CBE.
“This year’s shortlist brings the wild to life,” adds judge, award-winning artist Gary Hodges. “From the silence of a shark casting its shadowy form on the ocean bed to the scuttling of armadillos, the peacefulness of hippos wallowing in the early morning sun and the symphony of bird song at dusk, selecting the overall winner from this amazing collection will be extremely hard.”
136 pieces were shortlisted for the £10,000 sponsored top prize with the judges making their final selection on the morning of Monday, June 27 ahead of the private view and prize-giving that evening.
Continuing the diversity of the natural world in art form The North Gallery will host The DSWF Collection bringing together artists; David Shepherd, Mandy Shepherd, Emily Lamb, Nick Oneill, Emma Bowring, Catherine Ingleby, Sarah Duthie, Joss Haigh – and sculptors; Julie Wilson, Simon Griffiths and Robin Fox.
Commenting on the event, wildlife artist and conservationist, David Shepherd CBE said: “I set up my Foundation with the sole purpose of giving something back to the animals that helped me achieve success as an artist. At a time when the world’s wildlife is under such devastating pressure from expanding human populations and the illegal trade it seems fitting that we take a step back and reflect on the sheer beauty and diversity of our natural world and what could be lost if we do not truly appreciate the value of the world around us.”
Everything on show is for sale with profits supporting the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s wildlife conservation projects across Africa and Asia. Since 2007, the event has raised more £350,000 to help protect some the world’s most endangered wildlife.
For more information please contact:
Head of Communications
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
DD: Tel: +44 (0)1483 443851
Senior Account Manager
The Dovetail Agency
DD: Tel: +44 (0)20 3709 7806