Each year October is observed as World Animal Month. The holiday originated in Italy in 1931 and was started by a group of ecologists at a congress of the world’s animal protection organisations who wanted to raise awareness of animals, their importance, and their needs.
On that day, each organisation unanimously voted to accept a proposal put forward by Polish writer Heinrich Zimmerman for a universal event known as World Animal Day. This was a day which he first established in Berlin in 1925 and was later moved to 4th October to coincide with the patron Saint Day (or Feast Day) of 12th Century Italian Catholic friar, St. Francis of Assisi, due to his patronage of animals and the natural environment.
Unfortunately, only two years after his motion was accepted, Nazi occupied Germany banned Zimmerman’s Berlin Cat Protection Society after he destroyed files to protect its Jewish members from the Nazi’s intent to purge the membership archive.
Sadly, animal advocate Zimmermann later perished during a Nazi raid in Poland after being forced back to his native country during World War II. Thankfully, his efforts in matters of animal welfare meant that his legacy continues, and animal lovers and welfare organisations have continued to acknowledge World Animal Day and World Animal Month ever since.
The existence of human life is dependent on our planet’s healthy ecosystem and, of course, the existence of animals. This is why individuals and organisations work tirelessly to promote awareness for animals, seeking to improve their living conditions and to reduce threats against them.
Due to our innate alliance, fascination, and love for our animal friends, it is perhaps no surprise that they have long been a source of inspiration for artists, with people seeking to admire and adorn their homes with depictions of the animal kingdom and natural world.
According to an article from the Tate “Art can help us explore our relationship to wildlife and can help us think about how we care for animals and the environment. Animals in artworks can make us consider our own relationship to nature”.
A leisurely look at our collections of animal inspired art could be a great way, then, to bring thoughts of them to mind and encourage us to do all we can to protect and preserve our beautiful fauna.
Dorset watercolour painter Jake Winkle creates eye-catchingly colourful and textured compositions, which make use of bold dark elements and a free style to perfectly emulate the wildness of his subjects. His latest limited-edition prints and original paintings include a collection of watchful hares, enigmatic owls, and mosaicked giraffes to name just a few.
Bev Davies is naturally drawn to creating artistic representations of the animal world, and she does so in a style which is at once faithful to her subjects, whilst filled with playfulness and humour. Her distinctive and expressive depictions of our canine companions are sure to tug at the heart strings of anyone who has known the limitless love, and goofy shenanigans of a pup! Enchanting, too, is the rest of her collection of original paintings and art prints which range from winsome hare, cheeky meerkats, adorable hedgehogs, captivating fox, all the way to amphibious and feathered fauna.
Aaminah Snowdon’s animal art aims to raise a smile and warm the heart by using energetic and characterful mixed media techniques to illustrate her love of the animal kingdom. Her popular pieces are instantly recognisable for their joyful and lively representations of a range of wild, domestic, and farmyard animals. Of her latest limited editions featuring 3 gorgeous pups she says: “With a full focus and appreciation to our beloved four-legged best friends, I have been secretly working on 3 pup designs: a bounding Spaniel, a tennis ball loving Border Terrier and an adorably curious Dachshund!”
The highly textured and atmospheric work of young artist Josie Appleby is built upon a deep understanding and appreciation for the animal form, in particular that of the equine. Her collection of original paintings and prints includes powerfully pigmented portrayals of racing scenes, wild horses, loyal hounds, and swooping birds. One of her latest limited edition prints Sand Swallows features a rich blue palette and an avian focal point, which she says was “inspired by our family trip to the rugged coast of Cornwall”. Proving the Tate gallery’s declaration that “Animals live in a complex network of environments...Artists like to explore these ecosystems to tell stories.”
Jen Allen creates brightly hued and wonderfully dynamic original paintings on canvas, which feature fabulous feline centrepieces, juxtaposed with graphic elements and bold swathes of colour, which are unconventional to the subject matter. The result of such an adventurous approach is a collection of paintings which dazzle the observer with their originality whilst being notable for their distinct interpretation of the big cat.
BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009, Dominique Salm’s pieces are deftly imparted with wit and whimsy, whilst still capturing the charm and grace of her safari-centric subjects. Her highly expressive watercolours are each displayed on a clear white background, emphasising the importance of the subject, and honouring them with the sole focus of the composition. Her current limited editions include a powerhouse of a bull, and a flamboyance of flamingos, as well as inquisitive ostriches, and a whole menagerie besides.
Anthony Dobson’s collection of wall art is an exceptionally well observed body of work which has been created in a style born from a keen sense of detail. With an emphasis on animals of the great British countryside, his compositions are accurate and full of character, and his techniques precise without being overworked. His latest pieces Stealth and The Committee are striking characterisations of a graceful and majestic barn owl in flight, and a row of colourful and inquisitive cows respectively.
As well as paintings and prints, we have some spectacular examples of beautiful wildlife sculpture from talented sculptors including Fred Gordon, Adam Binder, William Montgomery, Hamish Mackie, Jenna Gearing, Sophie Louise White, George Bingham, Simon Gudgeon, and Gill Parker - expertly capturing the movement and spontaneity of their subject matter.
Many of these artists travel across the globe on research trips to observe animals in their own environment to better understand them and their distinctive characteristics. Sculptors Fred Gordon, and Hamish Mackie, for example, often sculpt in the field, with Hamish stating that "the disposition of a captive predator is very different from that of a predator the wild”.
As we have speculated, the natural world makes for an exciting and alluring ingredient in the creative process, offering as it does a multitude of shapes, colours, and textures to explore and present. Head over to our online gallery to browse our collection of wildlife themed original paintings; animal inspired limited edition prints, and beast-based sculpture.