In the summer of 2022 I joined a Festival of Wildlife deep inside the Arctic Circle. It was the experience of a lifetime. You can still join me in 2024 for art safari workshops in Zambia and Tanzania.
Many of you will know that I run regular Art Safari Workshops with Wildlife Worldwide wildlife holidays. My African safari workshops combine early morning and evening game drives with animal sculpture demonstrations and tuition, something which to the best of my knowledge is unique in the industry.
I’m always amazed at the progress my students are able to make when immersed in their art for a full week. Not only am I able to give them a thorough grounding in the basics of animal sculpture, I’m able to introduce them to the critical skills of wildlife observation. The ability to observe, interpret and record animal behaviour in the wild is essential for any aspiring wildlife artist. It also happens to be one of the most profoundly moving experiences for any enthusiast of the natural world.
For many people, a trip like this is the experience of a lifetime. And none more so than the Festival of Wildlife that my travel company, Wildlife Worldwide, has hosted since 2004. Conceived as a celebration of wildlife, the Festival of Wildlife combines a variety of wildlife watching activities with presentations, demonstrations and tuition from some of the world’s leading wildlife experts, photographers and artists.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the Festival of Wildlife 2022 in Svalbard as a featured artist. Svalbard, lying deep inside the Arctic Circle, is an archipelago of islands teaming with wildlife, including polar bear, walrus, seal, reindeer and numerous bird species. We took every opportunity to observe these animals at close quarters, undertaking daily launches in small zodiac craft and making landfall whenever conditions allowed.
The experience of watching a female polar bear make its way across a rocky spit of land before plunging fearlessly into the freezing Arctic waters is one I’ll never forget. The following day we were able to follow the progress of an Arctic fox as it hunted for eggs amidst the massive bird colonies that inhabit the spectacular sea cliffs that tower above the Arctic waters.
Between excursions I ran animal sculpture workshops, introducing more than thirty students to the art of animal sculpture. In the evening I gave a big presentation and demonstration of a polar bear sculpture. I completed this sculpture during the subsequent evenings, and it was auctioned at the end of the week to raise funds for nature conservation projects in the local area.
I enjoyed my time in Svalbard enormously and I’m looking forward to returning to Zambia in 2022 and 2024 to lead more Art Safari Workshops. I’ll also be joining the next Festival of Wildlife in 2024 in the wildlife rich plains of Tanzania. Follow the links in this article or contact me at any time for more information about my animal sculpture workshops, both overseas and here in the UK.