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Major Award for PAA Member Claire Harkess RSW

July 16th, 2017 by Robin Rodger

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s 2017 Wildlife Artist of the Year Awards……..And the winners are…

Stunning watercolour walrus scoops £10,000 wildlife art prize for Scottish artist Claire Harkess

Wildlife Artist of the Year winner


It was a wonderful night for wildlife as our 2017 Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition opened with a private view and awards evening at the Mall Galleries in London on Tuesday 27 June. The breath-taking collection of works that celebrate and champion endangered species is a stunning and stark reminder of how much we could lose if we do not protect the natural world and its wildlife.

“The faces of various different endangered species gaze off the wall, their eyes front-and-centre, piercing right through you. All around the room, pairs of vibrant eyeballs demand your attention. Together, they create a powerful and sobering effect,” wrote Chris Fitch in his review in Geographical Magazine

Selecting winners from this beautiful collection was not an easy task but the judges were unanimous and it was Claire Harkess’ watercolour entitled ‘Walrus of MagdeleneFjord I’ (pictured above) that stole their hearts. The work not only took the Wildlife Artist of the Year title but was independently selected by editor of The Artist Magazine, Dr Sally Bulgin, as her winner too.

“Watercolour is a difficult medium to master but Claire Harkess has expressed the qualities beautifully with an economy of colour to create a very understated but powerful work,” said Dr Bulgin.

“The winning artists came from across the UK and around the world with many attending the event last night from South Africa and Australia. We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the artists, sponsors, judges and buyers who help make this such a special occasion for wildlife,” said DSWF’s Sally Case.

As the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundations’ (DSWF) 2017 Wildlife Artist of the Year – Claire Harkess received the £10,000 top prize and, as winner of  The Artist Magazine, editors choice award, will be featured in an edition of the magazine this autumn.

Commenting on the winning piece the judges said: “Despite the softness of the painting it captures the weight and character of the animal and a real sense of place.”

Out of communication until Thursday, Claire returned home to a string of messages and was worried that perhaps her work had arrived damaged at the gallery. “What a great surprise. It is a huge honour to receive the DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year and ‘The Artist Magazine’ award. Wildlife conservation is crucial. To be able to highlight this through making art is a great way of keeping it in the spotlight, raising awareness and allowing us to marvel at the wonders around us. Many thanks to all the judges.” she said.

Claire grew up on the West Coast of Scotland and graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1993. Wildlife and the Natural World are predominant in her work and since being Artist-in-Residence at Edinburgh Zoo in 1998 she has travelled extensively, gathering material for her paintings – Antarctica, The Galápagos Islands, Australia, the Caribbean, St Kilda, Kenya and India. An elected member of RSW (Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour) she exhibits widely throughout the UK. In 2011 Claire was Overall Runner-up in WAY competition. She currently lives and works in Perth, Scotland.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2017, the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition brings together the world’s best wildlife artists exploring seven exciting categories. From Earth’s Beautiful Creatures to Urban Wildlife more than 130 original works challenge preconceptions of wildlife art.


The Perthshire Art Association is delighted to add its congratulations to Claire on this latest recognition of her exceptional talents.

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