I’ve collected wildlife art for over 40 years, and I found Chris Packham’s column and Nikki Stevens’s response thought-provoking. Unlike Nikki, I think that ‘wildlife art is merely a convenient title that covers many styles of representation, and as long as the art is of a high quality, engages people in the beauty of wildlife and encourages conservation, I don’t think it is really important what label it is given. However, I do agree with many of her points. Galleries often work to an economic agenda. They ‘mine’ young talent, constrain both time and subject, and require work that is guaranteed to sell. The public, meanwhile, who are often interested in wildlife art of all disciplines, are similarly constrained by economics.
Art, like fashion, is cyclic, and sadly ‘wildlife art’ is unfashionable, while photography has become extremely fashionable and is comparatively much cheaper. People enjoy producing their own art in photographic form, and their walls and shelves now contain personal images instead of mainstream prints and art originals. ‘Wildlife art’ will hopefully revive, but in the future only the most skilled and creative artists will be around to benefit.