The search is on for an intrepid artist who would like to take the plunge and seek inspiration beneath the waves. The Wildlife Trusts and the Society of Wildlife Artists fund an Undersea Art Award which pays for an established artist to learn to dive and then to work underwater off the UK coast, recording the wildlife of the sea. Applications for the 2016 award are now open! The winning artist will show their marine-inspired art at the SWLA’s exhibition in the Mall Galleries.
Now in its seventh year, the Undersea Art Award has inspired stunning works which show the beauty and diversity of sea life around the UK coast; they range in style from paintings to sculpture. See previous winners’ art and download an application form here. Artists have until Friday 26 February 2016 to apply.
The 2015 winner, Chris Rose, went diving off the Northumberland coast. His paintings evoke the mystery of the seals, swimming guillemots and sea-slugs that he encountered in the deep.
Chris Rose says, “The Undersea Art Award has introduced me to a new world that is exciting for the beauty of its underwater landscapes and for the strange variety of its wildlife. This largely unseen world is rich in wildlife but it is a fragile, delicately balanced ecosystem that we all rely on and yet continue to plunder and destroy at our peril. The old adage out of sight, out of mind has never been more true. My hope is that through my paintings, in some small way, I can help to illuminate the beauty, richness and fragility of our marine environment so that we might value it more and thereby increase public awareness of the need to look after it.
“It has presented me with new artistic challenges and possibilities, and a completely new palette of colours – I am looking forward to continuing my exploration of the underwater world and of the artistic potential it holds.”
Head of Living Seas at The Wildlife Trusts, Joan Edwards, says: “The Undersea Art Award funds diving lessons for artists with a passion for nature who want to find out more about the astonishingly varied submerged landscapes around UK shores. The idea is to create art inspired by the creatures which live in our wonderful cold water coral beds, sponge meadows, canyons and sandbanks.”
Previous winner of the award and President of the Society of Wildlife Artists, Harriet Mead, says: “The Wildlife Trusts’ Undersea Art Award is a tremendous opportunity to see the extraordinary life beneath the waves. Our marine habitat is an environment which few people have the chance to experience so not only did the diving inspire my work it has also made me determined to spread the word about the precious world that surrounds the UK coastline. I was lucky enough to receive this award myself and I can’t recommend it too highly – I strongly urge other artists to apply!”
The Undersea Art Award was founded to highlight the urgent need for Marine Conservation Zones – a type of protected area at sea where human activity is restricted to protect wildlife and habitats. The Government is creating these zones in the seas around England, following the passing of the Marine & Coastal Access Act (2009). These protected areas will allow sustainable use of the sea whilst protecting a range of species and habitats found in English waters from damaging activity.
For more information, a short film of Harriet Mead talking about the award, and an application form, please go to this link: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/undersea-art-award