Author Archives: harriet mead - SWLA president

The Natural Eye, 50th Anniversary Exhibition

The Society celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The Natural Eye exhibition is our annual show and it was opened in style by Sir David Attenborough. London’s Mall Galleries was packed for the opening on Wednesday 30th October, and the guests were captivated by the speech given by Sir David.



Sir David spoke about how art can communicate to a wide audience and can help nurture a delight in the natural world, which is the ethos behind the SWLA.

There are over 330 catalogued works on show at the exhibition and a further 200 unframed pieces in the Out of the Frame room. The Out of the Frame room shows some of our artist’s projects and gives an insight into the varied ways of working that our members employ. The Out of the Frame room this year showcases the work of Matt Underwood who visited the French Alps, Michael Warren who has spent 25 years regularly visiting a gravel pit reserve to document the birds, and Carl Ellis who has produced a captivating body of work studying fish in his local rivers.



The show closes on Sunday 10th November at 1pm.





This limited edition hardback book is packed with images from nearly 60 of our artists. With an introduction by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, a short history of the Society by past President and founder Robert Gillmor, plus text by current President Harriet Mead about the Society in its 50th year and Bruce Pearson looking to the future, this is both a beautiful and informative book. With field sketches, drawings, original prints, oils, acrylics, mixed media, bronzes, ceramics and found object sculpture there are gems on every page. Each of the contributing artists have written short anecdotes about the work that they have donated and funds from the sale of the book will help the Society to encourage and support artists inspired by the natural world through the SWLA Bursaries and other opportunities.

‘What a handsome and impressive compilation it is! I am truly delighted to have it on my shelves.’ Sir David Attenborough

BBC Wildlife Magazine’s ‘Book of the Month’.

‘A hugely impressive treasury of fine art inspired by the natural world’ Jonathan Elphick, writer and naturalist 

‘Anyone who buys this book will love it if they have the faintest feeling for wildlife’  Mark Avery, writer, naturalist and environmental consultant

‘A whole world of wildlife is brought into the room with you, brimming with the essence of each subject, telling stories, and setting up wonder in our enquiring minds’ Andy Clements, Director of the British Trust for Ornithology 

At only £20 plus p&p it makes an affordable and desirable addition to any art or wildlife lovers bookshelf.

To order a copy of The Natural Eye, Art Book One please click here.

Read a review of the book by Andy Clements

Read a review of the book by Mark Avery  

FIVE DECADES – A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the SWLA

This exhibition at Nature in Art in Gloucestershire, runs from July 30th to September 1st. Current SWLA members were asked to chose a fellow SWLA member from any point of the 50 year history and write a short piece on why they have been inspired by that artist. With examples from artists spanning the history of the Society and insights from the members on why they have chosen them, it should prove to be a fascinating show with a wide selection of work on display.

Pairings include Robert Gillmor talking about Charles Tunnicliffe, Chris Rose on why he is inspired by Bruce Pearson, Matt Underwood on painter Ken Waterfield, Robert Greenhalf on the talents of Kim Atkinson and Harriet Mead on what she admires about the work of Kendra Haste.

Hedge Trimmer Giraffe

This piece is a commission that I completed for a client who has several of my pieces. At only 4ft 6  high it is not life sized but is still quite substantial.  I used bow saws as a good basis for the neck and a large car spring as a rib cage. The pattern of the markings are depicted using blades from a combine harvester. Giraffes have an extraordinary structure and I was particularly struck by their shoulder blade and angular chest. I used a couple of G-clamps for the top of the shoulder and a garden fork for the chest. At times I felt unconvinced by the bizarre proportions but as it progressed my instincts were right and the piece came together.

If all goes to plan I will be showing a larger giraffe at The Natural Eye in October. When I started this piece I knew that the head could only be 8 inches long in order for the finished sculpture to be the correct size for the client. Unfortunately the objects that I started using for the head although perfect in shape and detail, were too large. I always start with the head on my sculptures as it dictates the proportions of the piece. I continued, stubbornly, knowing full well that the final piece would be closer to 7 ft than 4ft. I now have a head and neck and four legs in my studio of an unfinished giraffe that with luck will appear at the show as Hammer Horned Giraffe. I will have to find a large van to get it into London from Norfolk!

FOUNDING FOUR Society of Wildlife Artists at Birdscapes Gallery

Birdscapes Gallery is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the SWLA by hosting an exhibition featuring four of our founder members: John Busby, Robert Gillmor, David Koster and Ian Wallace within an exciting collection of work by fellow SWLA members.

Those taking part include: Carry Akroyd, Kim Atkinson, David Bennett, John Davis, Nick Derry, Harriet Mead, Peter Partington, Nik Pollard, John Reaney, Dafila Scott, John Threlfall, Esther Tyson, Michael Warren, John Paige, Greg Poole, Barry Sutton, Thelma Sykes and Matt Underwood.

The exhibition runs from Saturday March 23rd to Sunday April 14th. Birdscapes, Glandford, Holt, Norfolk NR25 7JP 01263 741742


For the past five years the Wildlife Trusts and the Society of Wildlife Artists have offered the opportunity for an artist to learn to dive in order to be inspired to make work in celebration of the life off the UK coast. The artists: Kim Atkinson, Antonia Philips, Anna Kirk-Smith, Esther Tyson and Harriet Mead have got together to show the results of their experiences and will include their underwater drawings and sketches, finished paintings and sculptures. The show will help highlight the extraordinary life off our coasts and the need for Marine Conservation Zones to be designated.

Wildlife Trusts Undersea Art Award exhibition ‘The Living Seas’ Fine Foundation Visitors Centre, Chesil Beach, Dorset. 15th-27th March. Click here for more information.