Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019

Wildlife Photographer of the Year AwardsI have been involved with the (formally BBC) Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for 21 years. They first approached me to make the trophies for the Erik Hosking and Gerald Durrell awards. I was later commissioned to make the trophies for the adult and youth winners.

The brief was simple: to sculpt the animals depicted in the winning photographs. Achieving this was often anything but simple, and my creativity was frequently challenged, particularly with marine life and, most memorably, when it comes to depicting insects in sculpture.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019For this year’s Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition I was once again commissioned to make the trophies for the winning photographers. As previously, this year’s trophies required careful preparation.

Apart from anything else, I knew that both the winners were coming from abroad. This meant the trophies would have to be suited to long distance travel if they were to make it safely to their new homes, probably in the winning photographers’ luggage!

Animal Sculpture TrophyThe overall winning photograph The Moment (above) is an incredible shot of a Tibetan fox hunting a Himalayan marmot to provide food for her cubs.

We decided to focus on the fox because this animal, with its unusual shallow features, narrow eyes and small nose, is quite unusual looking. I also loved the intensity in the fox’s face, its tense body stooped low in a stalking pose. I always like to know the story behind my subjects and I enjoyed sculpting this piece. Hopefully, I have done justice to the photographer’s image.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019The junior winner Night Glow (right) was equally challenging. I had to somehow find a way to convincingly sculpt and mount a big fin squid. My brief was to capture the extraordinary colour and iridescence of the squid, so I used copper carbonate in the glaze. This creates a rainbow effect.

Squid move by creating a pulse, waving their fins along the body, which I was keen to incorporate into the piece. I mounted the squid using translucent perspex rods to convey the impression of a free floating underwater creature. It was a challenging piece to design and execute, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Squid Sculpture TrophyThe award ceremony is dramatically staged in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum in London. This year the event was televised on YouTube. It was very exciting to see my trophies being awarded to the happy recipients.

Animal Sculpture TrophyPhotographs of the awards ceremony courtesy of Tim Whitby, Getty Images and Trustees of the Natural History Museum. The Moment Yongqing Bao. Night Glow by Cruz Erdmann.