Artists and famous faces have joined forces for a special touring wildlife art exhibition putting the spotlight on threats to iconic species.
Sketch for Survival, a global art initiative now in its sixth year, is the idea of Explorers Against Extinction, a conservation charity based in Norfolk which works to recover key species and restore ecosystems. Its ‘Partnerships to Protect the Wild’ has enabled on-the-ground conservation in more than twenty-five different countries from Indonesia to Brazil.
More than 3,000 artists from ninety different countries, aged 2 to 90 years old, answered the open call for artworks back in the Spring.
Finalists in the adult competition have now been announced.
Junior finalists are announced next week following final selection with award-winning illustrator Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo).
All the adult and junior finalists’ artworks will be exhibited this autumn at gallery@oxo on London’s South Bank, and other venues, alongside those donated by leading wildlife artists and celebrity supporters, including charity patron Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
They will be sold via online auction concluding Sunday 20 November with all proceeds supporting the charity’s projects. These range from protecting Critically Endangered Forest elephants in the Congo Basin, to a study on the impact of Climate Change on snow leopards in the Himalayas.
Co-founder and trustee of Explorers Against Extinction Sara White said: “All the artworks in the Sketch for Survival exhibition exclusively feature at-risk wild spaces, threatened species or species with a distinct conservation story. It’s a powerful, visual way to celebrate biodiversity while raising awareness about the threats to it, most-often due to human activity.”
Fifty species are included in the competition finalists’ work ranging from polar bears and big cats to great apes. These include some of the world's most endangered animals, such as African Forest Elephant, Black Rhino, Amur Leopard and Sumatran Orangutan.
A staggering seventeen different bird species made the final this year – the most the organisers can remember - including five Critically Endangered species: Bali Myna, Ruppell’s Vulture, Philippine Eagle, Ivory Billed Woodpecker, and a California Condor.
Annemieke de Wit from the Netherlands said: "The past few years I have been mainly drawing vultures in the hope to raise awareness of their plight.They are so important for a healthy eco system and desperately need saving from extinction. Hopefully I can make a small contribution trying to show people how beautiful they are."
This sentiment is echoed by Ben Popel, an illustrator/designer from York who entered an artwork of a Willow Tit. He said: "Willow tits are one of the fastest declining non- migratory bird species in the UK. Since the 1970s, the population has dropped by a staggering 94% and they've lost 50% of their breeding habitats. Willow tits are already extinct in most of their former range of southern England. I wanted to highlight the alarming decline of this elegant, somewhat overlooked bird."
Mexican artist Elena Magana Alaman focused her attention on the Mexican Prairie Dog. She said: "As a Mexican artist I focused on a lesser known endangered animal that deserves recognition, protection and respect."
Other lesser-known species include a gharial, binturong and Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas.
The charity is due to announce a short-list next week for the Sketch for Survival art awards.
The public can vote for their favourite artwork in the collection when the People’s Choice voting opens on 23 September.
See the charity website for full details.
(Examples of further artworks on request.)