Provenanace: Willow Gallery, London
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) was founded in 1984 by preeminent wildlife artist David Shepherd. The goal of the foundation is to further Shepherd’s own conservation efforts and to fund vital enforcement and community projects that, more than thirty years later, continue to make an impact. Through his efforts, donations from dedicated supporters, and the work of other artists, the Foundation has given away more than £9 million in grants to essential projects in Asia and Africa. The DSWF also engages in the international policy arena, fighting for greater protectionist policies. The foundation continues to lobby for a universal and permanent ban on the ivory trade and other endangered wildlife products.
In 2011, Shepherd launched a new initiative through the DSWF called “TigerTime” as an effort to help save wild tigers from the brink of extinction (the world has currently lost 97% of the wild tiger population). When launching the campaign Shepherd said, “We can talk all day long about how to save the tiger – but the truth is simple; the killing has to stop! I’m not prepared to see tigers lost to the world and I want everyone who shares my view to stand with me and be heard.” Celebrity supporters of the initiative include Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais, and others.
David Shepherd’s early career was, in his own words, “a series of disasters.” After failing to become a game warden in Africa, which was a childhood dream, he turned to his second choice, painting—and was promptly turned down by the first art school he applied to enter. He owes his subsequent commercial success to Robert Goodwin, the artist who trained him, and to the Royal Air Force, which flew him around the world to paint pictures of airplanes and commissioned his first wildlife painting—a rhino on a runway in Kenya.
During that same trip to Africa, Shepherd found dead zebras around a poisoned waterhole in Tanzania. Upon returning to London and feeling simultaneously inspired and troubled, he began to paint the animals he had seen in Africa. Shortly thereafter, Shepherd had his first one-man show of wildlife paintings, which sold out in the first twenty minutes. Throughout his career, Shepherd gave back to conservation efforts as an attempt to repay the debt he felt he owed the animals that had given him so much commercial success. In 1973, the sale of his painting Tiger Fire raised more than a million pounds in today’s currency and benefitted Indira Gandhi’s Project Tiger, a tiger conservation program run by the Indian Government. He sold many other paintings to benefit wildlife conservation and encouraged other wildlife artists to do the same.
David Shepherd has been awarded the Order of the Golden Ask by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, as well as OBE for his service to conservation. His legacy continues through the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.
For more information on the foundation, please visit their website: www.davidshepherd.org.