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Alan Hunt

View All Art Works By Alan Hunt
"If my son doesn't get to see half the wildlife in his lifetime that I've seen, I'll feel very guilty. Rather than become famous as a painter, I would like to be remembered as someone who tried to make people aware of the need to protect the environment and the planet." Choice words there from one of the country’s leading animal artists, Alan Hunt when pressed on the subject of what he might consider to be the legacy he leaves. There’s no doubting that Hunt has long done his level best in preserving the natural environment he’s fortunate to have been privy to on many an occasion when he’s chased the perfect pictorial representation of his creative quarry, especially on learning that he’s contributed so much time, effort and money in raising awareness (and indeed, subsequent much needed funds) for many conservational and environmental groups and individual campaigns. Hunt’s aim has always been to bring the on-going plight of both endangered species and environs to the attention of the public and as a devoted conservationist and animal artist he is well placed to realise this and strive to flag up various concerns and unfolding situations. "I'm particularly pleased to be associated with NWF Editions," Hunt adds, "because the net proceeds of my work will go directly to help solve environmental problems."
Born in Redcar, on the Cleveland coast, Hunt studied Zoology at both Leeds College and then Bristol University, whilst the broadening of his art education as such came courtesy of Middlesbrough Art College. This blend of science and creativity if you like stood him in good stead for the professional future which duly beckoned and has led to Hunt dubbing himself, ‘The zoologist who paints wildlife’ when informally introducing himself to people for the first time. Working up close with his preferred subject matter of animals in the wild and captivity – be it parks, zoos or reserves over the years – Hunt has applied his ability as a naturalist-guide for bird watchers and others interested in nature, whenever and wherever he has ventured around the world. Hunt essentially visually manifests images which reflect a lifetime of study of animal habits and genetics, all of which convey this wonderful photorealistic quality of craftsmanship. With a successful and rewarding career behind him, yet with much more still in front, Hunt’s individual works and collections have been exhibited in museums, galleries and various other related venues across the globe.
Specialising in the compositional capture of birds and wildlife (and the occasional landscape) chiefly in acrylics and watercolour, Hunt has been mastering his craft for some four decades now, during which time he’s witnessed his signature illustrative works being reproduced for organisations such as The National Trust, while a sizeable volume of his originals feature in many private collections. Elsewhere and Hunt has received private commissions resultant from trips to Africa, South America and the USA amongst other fact-finding/field trip destinations. What’s more, and as recently as 2012, Hunt found himself a finalist in the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year Competition.
It all started at 18 for the now universally acknowledged Hunt, when he mounted his debut one-man show in his native Redcar, with further showcasings hosted by the Austin Hayes Gallery in York thereafter. Such was the reception for Hunt’s initial artistic works which pretty much from the outset centred around the pictorial reproduction of birds of prey, that he knew from then on where his future lay. It wasn’t until Hunt reached his early thirties that he broadened his subject matter to include that of alternative predatory animals and various beasts of the wild. These would grow to routinely include the likes of tigers, lions, leopards and cheetahs. In the words of Hunt himself, he mused that; “They appeal to the predator in us”, before adding that; “We look at them with a touch of envy but also great respect”. Hunt’s generous love and respect for all manner of creature great and small has seen him cement this passion, artistically in graphic relation to eagles, elephants, gorillas, otters, penguins and an array of big cats too over the years, which might well have been instigated back in the 1970s and 80s as nature conservation as a movement to be reckoned with gathered momentum; particularly when Hunt involved himself in the World Wildlife Fund’s Save the Tiger campaign.
Throughout his painting career to date Hunt has underpinned it by absorbing all there is to know and understand about his subject matter’s natural habitat, alongside of the fauna and flora that go hand in hand with such vistas. So much so that writer and broadcaster, Paul Evans describes the ethos this has stimulated: “Alan sought to reconnect the animal with its environment and, through this, engage the viewer in a real ecological story. His painting evolved into dramas in which the trees, rocks and rivers became every bit as significant as the interactions between the animals”. As we touched on earlier, Hunt has received critical acclaim for his work throughout his career, not just on British soil yet much further afield. In America for example he’s lifted the Award for Excellence handed out by the Society of Animal Artists on no fewer than four separate outings, while in 1998 Hunt gained the distinction of being the first non-American voted on to the American Wildlife Art Hall of Fame; followed a year later by bagging the Artist of the Year award by the Florida Wildlife Art Exposition. Meanwhile back here in the UK, Hunt has been nominated by the Society of Wildlife Artists’ as Best Artist in Show three consecutive years. Other gongs have included 4 Gold medals in the prestigious Society of Wildlife Artists (USA) Voted into the Artists Hall of Fame, Featured Artist at many major shows and many more individual trophies to boot. Hunt has also been invited to judge at many shows such as the UK National Children’s Art competition, Not the Turner prize, and featured on various TV discussion and art programs.
Today Hunt calls home his Yorkshire farmhouse where he breeds Arab horses and owls. And when he’s not doing that (or painting, obviously) he’s assisting with breeding programmes for endangered species and working with both captive and wild animals.