• Published on Wednesday, 14 October 2020
  • | SWLA News
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  • | Exhibitions

The Natural Eye 2020

  Greenfinches, Great Tits and Wayfaring Tree by Brin Edwards
Greenfinches, Great Tits and Wayfaring Tree by Brin Edwards

The SWLA are very pleased to announce the annual exhibition, The Natural Eye, will be going ahead, as planned in October at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London.

Throughout the summer, the huge efforts by the team at the Mall Galleries has ensured that visitors can now visit the gallery, in safety, with the exhibition space made open for business since August. You can see the new guidelines in place and buy a ticket here.

The Natural Eye will open on Wednesday 28th October, perhaps without the usual fanfare of the Private View and prize-giving ceremonies, but a visual treat is guaranteed, nevertheless. This year, above all years, everyone has found a new deeper appreciation of the natural world around us and the show reflects an explosion of creativity from skilled artists from around the globe.

Many artists have used lockdown to explore the wildlife in their gardens so expect paintings of birds, butterflies and beasties from the backyard. Non-members Melanie Mascarenhas, Rachel Porter and Adele Pound have revelled in the invertebrate life in the suburban meadows and gardens around their homes. Likewise, SWLA member Julia Manning has a lovely set of prints from her new-found love of garden moths. 

Kittie Jones could walk the short distance from her flat in Edinburgh to Arthur’s Seat for a piece of wilderness in her home city. Her energetic drawings of Peregrines on the cliffs conjure the magic of these special birds that now have made their homes in many UK towns and cities. 

During lockdown I spent a lot of time watching a pair of peregrines nesting in my local park in Edinburgh. The day two large chicks emerged from the hidden nest was a great moment. I wanted to get a sense of the context of the nest site - right in the heart of the city with a busy road underneath and yet most visitors to the area were oblivious to the magnicient birds nesting above them. Kittie Jones

  Watching over the city by Kittie Jones SWLA
Watching over the city by Kittie Jones SWLA

Another SWLA member artist inspired by local peregrines is Esther Tyson who followed the progress of a nesting pair in her local quarry.

New SWLA member Wynona Legg didn’t need to travel to enjoy wildlife from afar. During lockdown Wynona drew directly from life’ using video links from a series of live camera streams from around the world, bringing amongst others Vervet Monkeys and African Baboons into her home. 

The current travel restrictions have not stopped the artwork submissions from overseas artists and amongst many foreign entries we’ve beautiful sets from Italian Federico Gemma; Hungarian Szabi Kokay; and Americans Barry Van Dusen and Ken Januski. 

Many of our artists are showing work reflecting their travels pre-covid and there are the usual array of charismatic wildlife from Africa with lovely sets from Dafila Scott in the Kalahari (Gemsbok) and John Dobbs from Botswana (Wild Dogs). 

  Gemsbok by Dafila Scott SWLA
Gemsbok by Dafila Scott SWLA
  Three Wild Dogs by John Dobbs SWLA
Three Wild Dogs by John Dobbs SWLA

Wild dogs are such wonderful creatures. I have spent many hours over the years sitting and watching them and many more trying to find them.

John Dobbs

As ever there is a dynamic range of three-dimensional work on show from SWLA sculptors Harriet Mead, Simon Griffiths, Nick Bibby and Jill Moger and very strong entries from non-members including a characterful set of primates from Iain Nutting. 

  The Usual Supsects by Nick Bibby
The Usual Supsects by Nick Bibby
  Sleeping Gorilla by Iain Nutting
Sleeping Gorilla by Iain Nutting

Chris Rose’s set includes this remarkable painting from a trip only days before lockdown. It has always been an ambition of his to experience the whales of the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, and his large piece depicts the thrilling sight of the tall blows from blue whales with the backdrop of the rugged landscape of Baja California – a sight to be seen.

  Blue Whale blows by Chris Rose SWLA
Blue Whale blows by Chris Rose SWLA

A memorable late afternoon off the coast of Bahia Agua Verde, Mexico, surrounded by about 15 Blue whales lunge-feeding around our small boat. The whales’ characteristic, tall, columnar blows that reach 15m in height could be clearly seen backlit against the blue mountainside. Chris Rose

You might not be able to get to Mexico at the moment but do get along the Mall Galleries.

If you are unable to visit, the gallery of work can be seen here to view and purchase.