• Published on Sunday, 20 November 2011
  • | Exhibitions

‘The Natural Eye’ – Review of the 48th Annual SWLA Exhibition

The Natural Eye — The 48th Annual SWLA Exhibition opened with the Preview at the Mall Galleries in London on Wednesday 26 October, when Mark Carwardine, conservationist, broadcaster, writer and photographer opened the show and presented the various prizes and awards. Mark co-presented two BBC2 television series Last Chance to See, with Stephen Fry and a The Great American Oil Spill, also with Stephen Fry. He has written over 50 books and his latest publication, Mark Carwardine’s Ultimate Wildlife Experiences, featuring his own stunning photography has just arrived in the bookshops.

The exhibition was as exciting and diverse in both style and subject matter as in previous years. The new Out of the Frame’ display in the North Gallery, featuring fieldwork of, amongst others, Bruce Pearson, Harriet Mead and Chris Rose, proved to be hugely popular. As in previous years, member artists were on hand in the gallery during most of the show to talk to visitors, give demonstrations or present guided tours of the show.

It is a great sadness that this year we lost the inspirational and charismatic artist David Measures. Always working from life, in the field, his work remained fresh, vibrant and exciting right to the end. He was a mentor to many and an inspiration to all. There was a display dedicated to him in the North Gallery that attracted many admirers. He will be sorely missed.

This year’s Underwater Bursary artist was Esther Tyson who battled a fear of water to become a qualified diver. Diving off the Dorset coast near Poole, Esther attempted to draw the elusive and endangered sea horses that inhabit the eelgrass beds in these shallow waters. The display of her free and lively drawings and paintings were a great attraction in the Main Gallery. The 2010 SWLA Bursary winner David Lowther showed a lovely selection of sensitive coloured drawings of cranes from a visit to the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin.

The winners of prizes and awards at the show were: Tim Wootton (Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award in association with Swarovski Optic); Bruce Pearson (Langford Press Award); Harriet Mead (The Wildlife Trusts’ Underwater Award); Dan Cole (Hawk and Owl Trust’s Roger Clarke Award); Alison Ingram (RSPB award); Robert Gillmor ( a special award marking the 25th PJC Award); two prizes from the BIRDscapes Gallery were won by Fiona Clucas and Greg Poole and an SWLA bursary was given to Meg Buick who has won a place on the John Busby Seabird Drawing course at North Berwick.