If you follow my work you’ll know I’ve worked with the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) and their Wildlife Artist of the Year competition for some time now. Above all, I share their ethos of artists giving back to the wildlife that inspires our work and keeps us going.
Having been short-listed each year since its inception, winning categories more than once and being crowned Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2015, this competition is an important part of my calendar. Every year I’m excited and inspired by the range and quality of work on offer. Each new exhibition brings a fresh take on wildlife art. It’s an exhibition I’m always thrilled to take part in.
This year I was inspired to sculpt five wolf pups howling. The wolf howl is a serious business and I find it absolutely captivating. The animals sit in a group, ears back, lips pursed, lost in deep concentration. Even without hearing it, you can feel the howl emanating from deep within these magnificent animals. I asked my loyal followers on social media to come up with a title and they didn’t disappoint. My top suggestions were: Howling in the Wind, Moonlight Serenade, Moon Quintet, Lupus Lament and A Low Moon Rising.
But I eventually settled on Call of the Wild as I felt this completely captured the sentiment behind the piece. Each pup is an individual with some howling more assertively than others. Their mouths are posed at different moments of the howl with even their tongues creating different shapes. See how their eyes are pinched in concentration.
The howl of the wolf is deeply embedded in human myth and culture. Its haunting lament touches a primeval fear passed down to us from our ancestors who once shared ancient forests with these formidable beasts. The ritual symbolism is no less significant for the wolves themselves. Howling promotes bonding and unity, announces their presence and defines their territory. Pups learn to howl from just a few weeks old. It’s an instinctive response for them. An initiation into the pack. Today, of course, we have nothing to fear from wolves. It’s we who threaten them. Through population pressure, habitat loss, and ignorance. As an artist, I strive to promote awareness and understanding of my subjects. Call of the Wild celebrates the ritual of the wolf howl, the grace and dignity of these magnificent animals, and the deep cultural connection we share with them.
This year the DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition will be held virtually online with all the 156 work available to view and buy online from 1 September until 2 October 2022. You can watch the ceremony live, sign up to the event and enjoy the evening absolutely free. All the works in the exhibition will be available to buy from the DSWF online shop from 1 September 2022. You can also place your vote for the People’s Choice award.