I have been a finalist in the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) Wildlife Artist of the Year competition since 2009. Almost from the start. I had to decline the invitation to enter for the first year because my twins were young and taking up much of my time.
I always look forward to contributing. Half the proceeds of each sale go towards the Foundation’s wildlife conservation work. It’s an opportunity for me as a wildlife artist to give something back to the animals I cherish.
Winning Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2015 with my sculpture Sleepyheads, a group of baby warthogs, was the highlight of my career. I hope future winners feel the same as I do.
The competition has grown over the years. Each exhibition seems to raise the bar for quality, innovation and passion for the subject. Artists from all over the world contribute new ideas and show us a fresh take at capturing wildlife and the natural environment.
This year I entered Bottoms Up! a fun sculpture of a baby elephant enjoying playing in the mud. Last November I finally returned to Africa to revisit the wildlife I so admire. I had endured three years of Covid-lockdown without any such opportunity. My animal sculpture safari guests and I couldn’t wait to get our first view of the incredible wildlife at Mfuwe Lodge, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. See my trip report to find out more.
We had a fabulous week observing wildlife and sculpting during our workshop – find our more about my art safari workshops here – but it was our elephant encounters that were the most memorable. We were privileged to see a family group of elephants enjoying a mud bath. It truly was a joy to behold!
These giants of the plains are very expressive. They never miss an opportunity to convey how they are feeling through their ears, trunks, mouths, tails and even the angle of their heads. When sculpting an elephant enjoying a mud bath, all of these features need to come together to capture the mood and the moment.
All my one-off ceramic animal sculptures are made from a fortified type of stoneware. But the baby elephant’s tail was so expressive I decided to use metal to avoid any risk of damage. Horse hair completes the look!
This is a young baby, less than a year old, so the trunk is proportionally small and the tops of the ears haven’t yet flopped over. I Raku-fired the elephant to give it a natural finish but the eyes are glazed and alert. This elephant sculpture can be shipped safely (and with full insurance) internationally. If you’re tempted, it could feature in your living room any day soon.
You can get involved with of Wildlife Artist of the Year by voting for the People’s Choice Award. Everyone who enters a vote for their favourite piece of art gets the chance to win a free DWSF Animal Adoption Pack. Naturally, if you feel like voting for Bottom’s Up! that would be fantastic!
The online exhibition is now live and the Mall Galleries exhibition with over 150 artworks opens on Monday 12th and runs until 16th September 2023.