Sometimes a dash of vibrant colour can change everything. That certainly appears to hold true at the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s latest Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition, where the latest collection of over 160 wildlife artworks (picked from more than 1,300 entries) has been complemented by a selection of pieces each with a dazzling bolt of colour, to help them stand out from the rest of the herd.
Specifically, the striking oil painting Peaceful Place by Prague-based artists Radka Kirby scooped the prestigious Wildlife Artist of the Year award, along with the £10,000 prize which comes with it. Depicting a collection of saddle-billed storks in a sub-Saharan lake, it benefits from brave streaks of colour in the birds’ shimmering reflections, adding a mild kaleidoscopic effect to a serene yet bustling setting.
Another winner which stood out for its unconventional use of colour is On the Inside Looking Out by Carrie Cook, in which a nervous, watchful gorilla sports a bright red flare across the top of his head and burning orange eyes, in contrast to the moody blues which otherwise decorate the body. Similarly, the simple and elegant Winter Fox by Chris Rose picked up a prize for the vivid contrast between the distinctive orange body of a common fox, juxtaposed with the crisp white of surrounding snow. Meanwhile, In the Colony by Paul Bartlett features an array of bright yellow bird heads strongly standing out from the white bodies of the colony which surrounds them.
Another popular theme revolves around the idea of movement, of wildlife in action, muscles caught forever in the moment. This Way Son by Alan Hunt emerged as a big winner for the incredibly immersive capture of three zebras straining to cross a fast-flowing river, their gasping breaths amid the thundering of the water almost radiating from the frame. In contrast, the breath-taking Zebra Shark bronze sculpture by ‘Umberto’ depicts the animal silently, slowly, deliberately flowing through water, yet caught permanently in the air.
As always, the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year is an exhibition with an incredibly eclectic mix of sculpture, watercolours, charcoal, and many other varieties of art. Predictably, there are multiple occasions where it’s necessary to lean right in towards the artwork to confirm you’re not actually looking at a photograph.
Sadly, this was the first hosting of the exhibition since the passing of David Shepherd last year. The Foundation’s ongoing enthusiasm for the event to raise funds to fight wildlife crime and protect endangered species (now topping more than £1.2million) is a tribute to his incredible life and work.
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