Society of Wildlife Artists – 50th Annual Exhibition

I often go to art shows because I am fascinated by other peoples art, I think all artists are. We like to see how others have done it. Sometimes I go to because a friend has recommended it. This week I went because my sister is the president and I knew I was in for a treat.

The Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) are celebrating their 50th annual show this year and my sister Harriet Mead is currently the president. I’m sure most of the thousand or so people who went to the private view, did so for the wonderful Sir David Attenborough. Who opened the show and inspired everyone there, all over again, to go out create art and pass on the message of conservation. But if I’m honest I went because I am immensely proud of my sister and everything she has achieved since becoming president in 2009. I know our dad would have been very proud of her and everything she has done for conservation, art and research.

This year is the 50th annual exhibition and it was wonderful. I squeezed my way through the crowd, to see the pictures of birds and animals and to admire the sculpture and be jealous at all the talent in the room. I was admiring one of Brin Edward’s wonderful pieces and trying to decide if I could afford to buy, when I realised I was surrounded by my family. My aunt, both uncles, cousin, other sister Miranda with partner and son had come to the show as well. It has been a long time since all of us were in the same room together and Harriet had achieved that (over and above the public side). Miranda and I got to catch up, which is something we haven’t done for many years and I promised to try and be more organised and stay in touch. Her son got a special treat of a private audience with Sir David to talk over all things wild.

I had the pleasure of meeting some of the exhibiting artists, having been introduced by Harriet. But I also am very grateful to the person who suggested that the artists wore name badges as I got to grab Tim Wootton as he went passed. I am very lucky to know Tim on Facebook and also to own two wonderful sketches but as we live a very long way apart (he is based in Orkney and I am in Southampton) I didn’t think we would get a chance to meet. I am very glad I did he is an exceptionally talented artist and a thoroughly lovely chap. It was a real incite to wander the exhibition with him and to see the artworks from a different perspective.

If all the effort to get the show up and running wasn’t enough Harriet and the team have also produced a book. The Natural Eye Art Book One. It is packed with picture by contributing artists. If you are interested in wildlife art I recommend you buy a copy and several for your friends.

I spent many hours at the show but they flew by and I realised on the train home that I didn’t take any photographs so this isn’t much of a review I do however recommend that you read Katherine Tyrrell’s excellent review Making a Mark.

If you are in London over the next week or so please take the opportunity to go to the exhibition at the Mall Galleries off Pall Mall just round the corner from Trafalgar square (Map). It is open until 1pm on 10 November.

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