At this year’s Natural Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, I was shocked and chuffed in equal measures to receive the Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award. In their own words ‘This prestigious award, held in association with the Society of Wildlife Artists and Swarovski Optik, is given to the artist whose work s considered to be the most outstanding’. My painting of tufted ducks in Rønne harbour was the one they chose, which made me especially happy as is was painted on Bornholm, and shows a scene that many local people will be familiar with (they huddle in the harbour every winter, just by the ferry).
I painted it in January, just after the actual KYST project finished. It was a freezing afternoon, but the setting sun cast a wonderful orange glow on the ducks. The sub-zero temperature meant that I couldn’t really control my fingers, resulting n broadquick brush strokes, and froze the washes of watercolor on to the paper, creating wonderful tendrils and patterns. I absolutely didn’t think ‘my God, its a Goddam masterpiece’ when I finished it, but it has grown on me and I was happy to submit it to the exhibition. I had no idea it would be chosen as the winning painting!
It means so much to me to receive this award, and has been given to me at a very important juncture in my professional life – just as the KYST project, its book and exhibitions, has come to a close, and lots of exciting things are beckoning on the horizon. I look forward to developing my practice and hopefully, one day I’ll feel as though I actually deserve to stand alongside previous and future winners.