Earning Your Stripes
I’ve never seen so many tigers in one room. There are lots of hunting dogs this year too, and a smattering of meerkats – the power of tv documentaries, or is that tv advertisements. Lapwings and avocets have again caught the imagination, as is the tradition, but there are some surprises - I think I spotted a jellyfish and pink river dolphin (which is more than I can say after a few trips to the Amazon).
Where can you see this menagerie, squeezed under one roof? Maybe the judging of BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year?
No, I’m sitting on the selection panel for The Natural Eye, the 47th annual exhibition from the Society of Wildlife Artists.
Nearly 800 paintings, prints and sculptures from artists inspired by nature, pored over with a critical eye in an effort to sort the good from the not so good. And one artist’s view of what’s good is not always the same as another artist’s view. Ask 11 artists their opinion on a piece of work and you get 11 different answers. A democratic 8 thumbs up will get you in; 7 or 6 will start a discussion; any less and unfortunately it’s not your year…
Of course there are lots of work that meets with unanimous approval and the whole day is an enviable chance for a sneak preview of what will be a delightful show: Highlights for me were a beautiful set of wood cuts from Kruger by Greg Poole; sketches of Gannets riding the air from John Busby and the sumptuous oils of Matt Underwood. These and many other gems have been lovingly created by artists from all over, and now brought together for one show to celebrate the treasures of the natural world.
So a long day over with 800 entries wittled down to 344 – and I think I managed to smuggle past some of my paintings too. Simples.