Environmental artist gives a voice to world’s most endangered animals
Exhibition November 2 to 13, London's Oxo Tower Gallery
With COP27 getting underway soon, one of the world’s top wildlife and environmental artists is staging a thought provoking exhib
ition at London’s Oxo Tower Gallery (November 2 to 13), highlighting the peril of the most endangered animals on the planet – with sales of her artwork funding vital conservation work.
Fine artist and passionate conservationist Sophie Green was a selective mute until the age of seven and spent her time outside immersed in nature and wildlife. Having battled mutism as a child, she now aims to give animals a voice through her striking artwork.
Her photorealistic paintings of some of the world’s most under threat creatures, such as polar bears, rhinos, tigers and whales, attract an A-List following, with 150,000 fans on social media, and she is on her way to becoming a blue chip artist like British fine art photographer and conservationist David Yarrow.
Sophie’s artwork provides a window into another eco system – connecting the viewer with wildlife from all over the world, whilst also drawing attention to the plight of species at the hands of mankind and climate change.
‘I paint animals to save animals,’ said the Surrey born former primary school teacher, who lives and works in East Sussex and has previously exhibited at COP26. ‘It is my hope to make a difference in the world of conservation and use my art to make a positive impact on the world.’
Sophie’s work often draws the viewer’s attention to the vulnerability, power or emotion of the animal – and the star attraction of her free forthcoming art exhibition ‘Impermanence’ is the commanding ‘Majesty’ featuring an East African lion and named in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth II, who was instrumental in encouraging conservation efforts across the world.
Since turning professional, Sophie has donated more than 10% of her income to wildlife and conservation charities worldwide, as well as setting up her own project fund that will support vital conservation work, from safeguarding the snow leopards of the Himalayas, to conducting research on threatened marine species like sharks and turtles.
‘Impermanence’ is Sophie’s collection of 14 inspiring, evocative and thought provoking pieces, painted in a hyper realistic style.
The talented artist travels the world taking photos of endangered creatures in their natural environment that she can then paint – she went to the Arctic last year and next year, she will be visiting Tanzania.
‘All of my pieces are based on a species or a current conservation issue that has drawn my attention,’ she said. ‘If there isn’t an underlying reason for creating the piece of art, my passion for the piece dwindles. For example, my recent expedition to the Arctic brought forward so many issues in terms of the wildlife, climate change, ice melting etc, that for a while, a lot of my pieces were polar themed.’
Sophie aims to forge a path for other wildlife artists and female artists in general ‘to be seen and be respected in the contemporary art world’ – and to use their art in a positive way and be a spokesperson for issues they are passionate about. She is also the founder of online gallery, Art Basket, that supports and sells the artwork of independent artists like herself.
‘I was in my mid 20s and although I loved working with kids, teaching is such a full on profession and I didn’t have any time to do what I truly loved,’ Sophie explained. ‘My passions lay in creating art and making a difference in the natural world. When you don’t have any time for a creative outlet, or to do something you love, it forces you to make some tough life decisions. Letting go of a stable, reliable income to go and chase a ‘pipe dream’ at the time seemed terrifying, but it was the best decision I have ever made.
‘Animals and the natural world have always been close to my heart. As a young child, I was a selective mute, which meant that I couldn’t speak outside of the family home until the age of seven. I was very introverted and spent almost all of my time outside with nature and wildlife, or reading books about animals. It was never a choice to become a wildlife artist and conservationist, it came completely naturally. Animals don’t have a voice and are not responsible for any of the struggles that they face due to human encroachment, climate change, poaching, etc. It is a no-brainer for me, that as many people as possible should be trying to make a difference for the voiceless.’
In 2021, Sophie was awarded the ‘medal of excellence’ from the Artists for Conservation Foundation (AFC) representing 500 of the world's leading nature and wildlife artists, for her outstanding work in the wildlife and conservation sphere. She was also selected to be one of 20 artists to exhibit at COP26. And she recently donated one of the pieces from her ‘Impermanence’ collection to Tusk and the African Community & Conservation Foundation (ACCF), where it sold at auction for a whopping $24,000.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are currently more than 40,000 species that are believed to be under threat.
Sophie said, ‘‘Impermanence’ is both a collection of art and the foundations of a lifelong purpose. The collection will be funding vital conservation projects worldwide, as well as raising awareness for important conservation issues and inspiring others to make a difference. The name ‘Impermanence’ is open to interpretation, highlighting the philosophy of the impermanence of life, as well as the impermanence of many species and eco systems on this planet. But there is also hope – in the impermanence of the world’s problems.’
Admission to wildlife artist Sophie Green’s ‘Impermanence’ exhibition is free and runs 11 am to 6 pm from November 2 to 13 at the OXO Tower Gallery located in London’s South Bank on Barge House Street, SE1 9PH.