Author Archives: harriet mead - SWLA president

Greg Poole 1960-2018

The Society of Wildlife Artists is deeply saddened to share the news of the untimely death of artist and SWLA member Greg Poole.

Greg was a distinctive artist and a unique character. He epitomised what it is to be a wildlife artist in the world today – an exceptional naturalist who was able to find equal interest and inspiration from the big game of the African plains and the local insects watched and recorded on his Bristol allotment. Most importantly he translated these experiences into unique works that combined a strong sense of composition and drawing, with a playful approach to the paper edge and a strong sense of rhythm across the surface. Anyone who had the privilege of witnessing Greg work will have seen him sitting and looking for a long time before making swift, calligraphic marks on paper often turned away from the subject matter but ‘with senses still full of the place, hearing birds, smelling the vegetation, feeling the wind or sun and starting to paint’. His field sketches combine a deep understanding of the creatures he is depicting with evocative, sparse descriptions of their habitat and occasional scribbled notes about behaviour. They are often works in their own right as well as serving as starting points for the relief prints and monotypes for which he is best known.

Leopard and Carmine Bee-eaters

Greg originally studied Zoology at Cardiff University and it was on a field trip soon after graduating that he had an experience which changed his priorities and turned him towards becoming an artist.

‘I was with one other ornithologist, in a tent on a beach ridge hundreds of miles from the nearest people. Icebergs offshore, caribou migrating, arctic fox on the neighbouring ridge and all kinds of exotic birds in this near 24 hour clear light. It was a sensory overload and I didn’t know what to do with it. Some of the time having to retreat into the tent. I made the resolution to find a way of expressing what I was seeing as soon as I returned to Britain.’


After this he sought out a year on a Foundation course at Manchester Polytechnic which gave him the tools to begin to establish himself as an artist and illustrator with a strong focus on the natural world.

Greg first exhibited with the Society in 1991 and was elected a member two years later in 1993 – he served on the Council a number of times and was an active member. Greg took part in many of the projects and residencies over the years, including Aig an Oir and BTO Flight Lines in Senegal and more recently the Turkish Sweet Gum project, Wallasea Island and Kingcombe projects. Among other accolades Greg received the RSPB Art Award for a piece he made in response the Wallasea Project in Essex and was awarded the Birdscapes Gallery Printmaker’s prize.

Short-eared Owl Flying near Diggers

RSPB Award 2015       Greg Poole Short-eared Owl Flying near Diggers

Greg was a natural teacher, he was generous with his energy and had a reputation for his insightful and honest feedback. He joined the John Busby Seabird Drawing course as a tutor in 1996, working alongside his good friend and long-time collaborator David Measures amongst others. Through this he was able to introduce a number of new field artists to the Society who he has championed and mentored in recent years.

Gannets, Bass Rock

A committed conservationist, Greg gained enormous pleasure in transforming his garden and adjoining allotment into a wild flower meadow which he dedicated much of his time to in the last few years.

Gatekeepers and Bees on Scabious

He had a wonderful capacity for knowledge and could also ‘see’ the relationships between plants, birds, animals, insects and human activity in landscapes – these elements were frequently combined in his creative output.

Women Walking & Turacos

Greg was born in Bristol in 1960 and died on 28th December 2018 after complications from a heart attack.

The SWLA will be collecting funds in Greg’s name for suitable bursaries such as places on the John Busby Seabird Drawing Course. Details of how to donate will are at the top of this page.

Oystercatchers, Starlings & Dunlin

The Natural Eye, 55th annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists

The exhibition is held at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London and runs from Thursday 25th October to Sunday 4th November and includes over 350 catalogued works plus unframed project work in the Out of the Frame room. The catalogue and selected works are available to view here.

On 25th October at 12.30 there will be an informal talk by Jill Moger SWLA about her extraordinary ceramic sculpture of a hydrothermal vent. Jill will chat about what Hydrothermal vents are and the life forms that thrive on and around them and give an insight into how she went about creating the piece.

Harriet Mead PSWLA will give a short informal tour of the show on Thursday 25th October at 2.30 pm.

Kittie Jones SWLA will be happy to discuss artist’s portfolios on Friday 26th October.

Meet the Artists

There will be a member artist available most days to answer questions.

Thursday 25 October – Julia Manning and Jane Smith

Friday 26 October – Kittie Jones

Monday 29 October – Robert Greenhalf

Wednesday 31 October – Chris Wallbank and Richard Allen

Friday 2 November – Max Angus

Sat 3 November – Peter Partington

Leopard and Carmine Bee-eaters by Greg Poole SWLA

Ian Langford Field Sketches Award – Extended Deadline for Entries

The award is named in memory of the ornithologist, conservationist and publisher Ian Langford (1956-2017). Ian was passionate in his support of wildlife art and of the SWLA and particularly keen to encourage those artists working directly from nature.

Artists are invited to submit work for consideration for the £500 prize which will include displaying a selection of field sketches at The Natural Eye, Mall Galleries London in October. Overseas applications are accepted.

Extended Deadline is Friday 21st September.

For details on how to submit please click here.

The Natural Eye 2020, the 57th annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists

Ptarmigan pastel by John Threlfall SWLA

The Natural Eye, the annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists showcases the very best of fine art inspired by the natural world. Renowned for displaying a wide ranging collection of exciting and thought provoking work including sculpture, printmaking, painting and drawing there will always be something to delight and inspire you. The Out of the Frame room celebrates the tradition of working from life and will show a selection of field sketches and project work from member artists. Each day a member artist will be at the gallery to meet visitors and share their experiences of creating their work. Alongside the exhibition our events will include artists demonstrations, talks and a portfolio day for which details will be published on this site in due course.


Open to the public: Wednesday 28th October, 11am – 5pm

Closes: Sunday 8th November, 1pm


The SWLA is extremely grateful to all our sponsors and supporters.

  • Birdwatch and Swarovski Optik Artist of the Year Award : a prize of Swarovski optic equipment
  • The RSPB Award (£500)
  • Birdscapes Gallery Conservation Award (£700 split between the recipient and a conservation charity of their choice)
  • Larson-Juhl Drawing Prize (£500 framing materials and an article in their magazine 4Walls)
  • Dry Red Press Printmaker’s Award

The Art of Migration, Birdscapes Gallery Norfolk

Male Cuckoo, Wicken by Richard Johnson

The Society of Wildlife Artists and the British Trust for Ornithology have joined forces in following our summer visitors, such as cuckoos, on their long incredible journeys from Britain to their wintering grounds in Africa and back. The scientific research undertaken and the amazing information and resulting artwork feature in the highly readable book Flight Lines by the BTO’s Mike Toms. Originals from the book and other works on the theme of migration, including those birds which travel huge distances to Britain from further north for our winter make up this fascinating exhibition.

Midday Saturday April 28th to May 20th 2018

The Birdscapes Gallery, Glandford, nr Holt NR25 7JP

Tel 01263741742   Open daily


The Natural Eye 2017

Red Admirals and passing Hobby by Darren Woodhead SWLA

The annual exhibition of The Society of Wildlife Artists opens to the public on Thursday 19th October and closes on Sunday 29th October at 1pm. Over 360 works by more than 100 artists inspired by the natural world are on show and includes printmaking, drawing, painting, mixed media and sculptures. To see a selection of work click here

There is a calendar of events including workshops, talks and ‘meet the artist’ days. Click here for more information on talks and portfolio days.