Saturday 7 June 2014

What a weekend!

A bit of an overdue blog post after what's been a very busy week but better late than never! I'm about to fill you in on what was the best moment of my art career to date, I hope you're sitting comfortably, here goes!

So after getting in from a transect bat survey at half 12 in the morning (and some hair-raising green laning on the motorbike in the dark) I collapsed into bed hoping to squeeze in as much sleep as possible for a 6am start and some frantic packing. Breakfast was wolfed down, bags thrown in the car and my Gorillas carefully packed up and seatbelted in and at 8.30am we set off on the long road trip down to Kent. I say we, I don't drive yet so my lovely other half was responsible for the safe transit of Primaternal Love and I down to that London and he fulfilled his role as chauffeur superbly well. I had until 4pm to deliver my portrait to the Mall Galleries and we were aiming to be in London for around 2pm...obviously nothing ever goes to plan!

Last pic of the gorillas in my home!
Ticket packed!
It was a seemingly uneventful journey most of the way and our opinions of a congested south were fading...until we hit the M11 and realised the possessed sat nav was trying to take us close to London with all the congestion zone road signs popping up, aaargh! Turned out it was set to avoid the toll roads, typical! after resorting to a good old-fashioned map we turned around and went for the Dartford crossing...hitting it at early afternoon on a Friday - NIGHTMARE! An hour's very slow crawling in traffic and we were across, throwing the toll of £2 at the barrier willingly just to get going again. We eventually got to our friend's place for 2.30pm, only an hour and a half to get to the centre of London, eek!

We parked up and promptly hot-footed it to Sevenoaks train station where we managed to hop on a train straight away (always remember London having very efficient transport systems!) and after 40 minutes we were at Charing Cross, thankfully a very convenient 5 minute walk away from the Mall Galleries. By this time is was 3.30pm so a speedy game of human dodgems was on the cards, past the great lions of Trafalgar Square, through the Admiralty Arch and then we'd arrived. A weight was lifted now the drawing was safely delivered, with 20 minutes to spare too, phew, talk about cutting it fine!!!

The Admiralty Arch

We didn't hang about in the city centre long then with us both being tired from the journey and rush hour fast approaching. We were planning on spending the day there on Monday before the Preview night at the Galleries so we headed back to Kent for an evening of sunshine and good company, in fact a whole weekend of it but more about that at a later date.

Now to fill you in on the main event on Monday 2nd, the Private Preview night! After a visit to the British Museum and St. James' Park and a quick freshen up, we headed back to the Mall Galleries for the start of the Exhibition itself. After all the build up to this prestigious event, it was actually happening and I couldn't quite believe I was actually there, just a few moment's walk from Buckingham Palace with one of my drawings up in a top gallery, just wonderful. Tonight the Exhibition was opening up to all the artists who's work had been short-listed for the event, plus guests and celebrity artists.

After having my name ticked off and collecting a name badge we were greeted by an amazing display of truly stunning artwork, canvases and framed works of all sizes, meticulously arranged on the walls whilst the sculpted pieces were spread about the centre of the room. Straight away cameras were flashing left right and centre as artists were posing with their work and we had to try and find my work among the 150+ works in this huge space that was quickly filling with people, no mean feat! It took a few minutes but then we saw them and, wow, WHAT a feeling! I almost wished I'd adorned neon legwarmers and done some crazy leap across the room towards them but thankfully I hadn't and didn't, thus preserving all sense of dignity and professionalism.

Anyway, some pictures!

Much time was spent perusing the hugely varied and, quite frankly, breathtaking standard of work, and here is a selection of my favourites!

Smew with miniature by Philip Nelson

The Indochine Tiger by Trung Nghia Nguyen

Lemur Lunchtime by John Elliff

Feathered Friend by Mandi Baykaa Murray

Shirokuma by Liara Crane
(winner of the Young & Wild Category)

Indian Summer by David Shepherd (Limited Edition print)

Water Vole by David Shepherd

Sunrise on the King by Stefano Zagaglia

Clear a Path by Nick Oneill

Noca - Brazilian Jaguar by Neil Allen
Raven by Jane Ackroyd (eyeing up my other half!)

Sword of the Desert by Stefano Zagaglia
(Winner of the Wild Life category)
And the artist himself, who also painted the exquisite
"Sunrise on the King" shown above
If the Bee Disappears... by Calla Beddow
Time Out by Nick Mackman

Amazingly whilst at the other side of the gallery we had noticed little red dots appearing next to artworks and assuming they meant pieces had been sold we meandered our way back to the corner where my Gorillas were up...and I couldn't believe it, I HAD A DOT! ALREADY! Another fantastic feeling (I was a bit stunned to be honest) so we then had to ask a volunteer and they confirmed those red dots really did mean what we thought they did, blimey.

I was also asked to have a photo taken by one of the DSWF photographers so I'm in the official magazine for the event, such a privilege! You can read the mag here (I'm on page 20 ;)) The photographer congratulated me when she saw the dot after I'd taken her to my drawing for the pic, which quite took me by surprise so thankyou, a lovely boost :D 

Before we knew it, the moment for the prizegiving had come. "The Boss" David Shepherd, head judge Mark Carwardine and Pam St Clements took centre stage and gave inspiring and heartfelt speeches about the amazing work the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation carry out.

David Shepherd himself
Mark Carwardine, wildlife film-maker and photographer

And then it was all over! Well, we wandered a bit and then, knowing we still had to make the long journey back home that same night, we went on our merry way. A couple more photos and back on the train to Kent :D

The exhibition finished at 4pm today, do let me know if you managed to have a look! If you've missed it you can access the whole catalogue of works online and buy here

Read the BBC article on the event:

The overall winning piece was "Transparence Elephant" by French sculptor Pascal Chesneau so a massive congratulations to him, it's a gorgeous work of art and very worthy of the title!

It was an absolutely superb experience, one I still can't quite believe I've been a part of and definitely the biggest thing to happen in my art career so far. I'll leave you with a few momentous screenshots, enjoy the rest of your weekend...


...onwards and upwards!

Meg x

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