Wildlife Artist of the Year won by Cy Baker

This year’s open competitions for the Wildlife Artist of the Year – sponsored by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and BBC Wildlife attracted a total of 1,654 artworks from 850 artists in 55 countries.

The competition amongst wildlife artists from all over the world was won by Cy Baker – about which there’s more below!


Wildlife Artist of the Year was established in 2008 by David Shepherd CBE FRSA (1931 – 2017) and embodies his vision for ‘The Art of Survival’ i.e. using art for wildlife conservation. It’s now co-sponsored by BBC Wildlife who used to also run a (separate) Wildlife Artist of the Year competition. It used to be very confusing at times!

Below you can find out more about the exhibition and how to see it – and who won the awards and prizes.


That’s a decrease across all three categories: No. of artworks, no. of artists and no. of countries – compared to 2021. That said, it’s comparable with 2020. Both exhibitions during the Pandemic were online only. The Online Exhibition 2022

Those selected for exhibition – and awards – were identified last week.

As somebody who has followed this exhibition every year and visited the Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries since 2008, I feel very, very sad this year that the exhibition this year is an ONLINE GALLERY ONLY EXHIBITION and I can’t see the artwork ‘up close and personal’. 

It’s such a shame as we come out of the worst of the pandemic that we’re not seeing this art competition returning to a proper art exhibition in a gallery – as is now happening with other regular art exhibitions at a national level.

I’m hearing from various organisations that they can no longer afford to exhibit at the Mall Galleries. The thing about managing a business is you can’t price yourself out of the market – and you need prestigious exhibitions like this one to remain a gallery that people want to exhibit at.

The 2022 entries are grouped in galleries according to different categories which are 

Plus

This is a video of the Awards Ceremony which took place on 1st September. Below you can see images of the various winners.

Award winners


Overall winner – Sponsored by Neil & June Covey

(The £10,000 Prize for the Overall Winner consists of a £5,000 cash prize and £5,000 conservation voucher to be donated in the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021’s name to a DSWF species of their choice.)


Cy Baker “Costa Rican Cloud Forest”

“Costa Rican Cloud Forest” by Cy Baker

Biro and Oil, 160 x 70cm

£3,900

I’ve not seen a piece with such an emphasis on habitat win the overall prize before. It’s an interesting choice as the image I’m looking at on their website does not reveal any animals or birds – and yet I believe they’ll be in there somewhere. This is when it’s really frustrating not to be able to see the artwork in person – and inspect for yourself! 

“I was utterly bowled over by the sheer complexity and inter-dependence of all life we saw there, especially in its cloud and rain forests. How such apparent chaos can form a finely tuned balance that is so beautiful is the inspiration for this piece – “Costa Rican Cloud Forest”. There are multiple species of plants and birds.” Cy Baker – who visited Costa Rica recently

Cy Baker initially studied scientific illustration at Southampton Institute and Blackpool and the Fylde College of Art. (This is a course which has virtually disappeared from higher level education in the UK).  After initially working as an illustrator for 5 years, he then worked in Customer Services and entered exhibitions as an amateur artist. Then in 2015, he gave up full time work in order to try and make a living as a full time artist. Since then he’s sold artwork, worked on commissions and learned a lot about the art market – and been exhibited in the Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition most years and was a category winner in 2019.

“it is exquisitely executed and gives a real feeling of the dense forest atmosphere. The black and white detail is extraordinary and draws one into the centre of this magical place”. Melanie Shepherd, DSWF Chairman of the Board of Trustees and judge

Overall runner-up

Also sponsored by Neil & June Covey

Gordon Pembridge “Dappled Respite”

“Dappled Respite” by Gordon Pembridge 

oil painting 57 x 90cm

I think I’m right in saying this is a painting of five hooded guinea fowl taking a rest in the shade.

“light, composition, rendering and use of colour all contribute to the feeling of Africa and the heat and dust she is known for. This piece has something both enchanting and subtle in its charm”. DSWF’s Art Patron and judge, Emily Lamb

Gordon Pembridge was born in Kenya East Africa and developed his love of natural history while experiencing the wild areas of his home. He now has a studio in New Zealand. 

He was awarded a £2,000 prize (£1,000 cash prize plus a £1,000 conservation voucher for a DSWF initiative of his choice.)

TOP TIP:  A red spot means the artwork has sold. You can have an education in pricing to sell art by clicking each of image and seeing what price was charged and whether it sold. It underlines points about pricing which I repeatedly make on this blog.

The Category Winners are:

  • Animal Behaviour: Emma Swift for “Striding On” She has worked as an Art Editor in publishing for over 20 years. Mostly focuses on commission for pet portraits and wildlife art
  • Earth’s Wild Beauty winner: Nicholas Jones for “Dawn Light, Cape Mercy, Baffin Island 2019” 
  • Facing Extinction winner: Joni-Leigh Doran for “Anyone Out There?”
  • Human Impact category winner (16-22 year olds) – In memory of Ingrid Beazley: Levi Hurst for “Not A Gift”
  • Into The Blue winner: Jacqueline BrightA cast of crabs” Lives in Norfolk and mostly does pet portraits
  • Urban Wildlife winner: Amy Rogers for “Richmond” – a charcoal and pencil drawing of a stag by a lake
  • Wings winner: Matthew Polluk for “Black Skimmer
  • Michelle Lee Howk First Time Entrants Award: Ginger Gehres for  “Let the Good Times Roll” Her work is very impressive. She is a Master Member International Society of Scratchboard Artists
  • Elizabeth Hosking Prize for Watercolour: Vikrant Shitole “The Unleashed” His websites do not indicate a regular painter of wildlife.
  • The Artist Editor’s Choice Award: Annabel Thornton for “Lone Bee” – studied at Cheltenham College of Art where she gained her BA Fine Art Honours Degree. She recently became a member of the Society of Woman Artists
  • David Shepherd Art of Survival Award: Detlef Tibax for “The Fish Eaters” – previously selected for the DSWF in 2019, 2021 & 2022. Detlet is a a Belgium based wildlife artist currently living near Antwerp.

I have to say overall that the artists winning prizes this year do not match those of earlier years when there was a real art exhibition in a real art gallery. I cannot help but think that very serious / professional wildlife artists are more disinclined to enter art competitions which are online only.

That and the fact David Shepherd is no longer with us means that very sadly this is not the art competition it used to be. (see below for my review of past competitions and exhibitions)

That said it still includes some excellent wildlife art.

More about Wildlife Artist of the Year on this blog

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