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Gary Hodges

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Celebrated and endearingly popular contemporary animal artist, Gary Hodges has long been raising both the profile and moreover, substantial funds for conservation and environmental issues and charitable organisations for as long as he’s been acknowledged as one of the UK’s foremost animal artists. Groups such as Greenpeace, Zoo Check, the World Wild Fund for Nature and the Born Free Foundation have benefitted directly from the auctioning of some of Hodges’ most symbolic and illustratively significant works of art over the years as he’s sought to help highlight the plight of many globally endangered species and areas of native landscape at risk. In addition to this Hodges’ individual works and collections have been the subject of numerous exhibitions around the world which once again have drawn attention to many important, nature-related causes, including shows at London’s Medici and Mall Galleries, the Robin des Bois exhibition staged in Paris and the Living Rainforest Art Exhibition housed by London’s Natural History Museum.

Hodges remains the UK’s best-selling and one of its most highly prized pencil artists and to date he has put his signature to in excess of 107,000 numbered prints and some 129 sets of limited editions. Of these 129, 116 have sold out. That’s quite some achievement by any artist’s standards, yet when you figure in that Hodges is self-published and, even more astonishingly, self-taught in the first place, it puts these feats into even greater perspective. Demand for Hodges’ prints continues to be high, and each new release is anticipated as much as the last by his army of fans and seasoned collectors alike, all keen to make a move as and when he reveals his latest compositions. In terms of investments, Hodges’ hallmark works make great business sense as swell as artistic. Take for example his first print published by Greenpeace back in 1987. The 850-run piece (which incidentally cost £8.50 at the time) sold out within a matter of weeks. In recent years that print, entitled ‘Green Turtle’ has changed hands with a price tag nearing £3,500; more than 400 times its original face value no less. This wasn’t an isolated incident either, as other Hodges prints have made similar inflation-busting prices on the lucrative secondary markets.

Of these typical Hodges pencil studies though, and the first thing anyone observes is the artist’s unswerving love and genuine respect for his subject matter. This appreciation isn’t just reserved for fearsome beasts who are native to Africa or the Indian sub-continent either, as Hodges is every bit as likely to capture his passion for animals were he to befriend a dog on the street as opposed to cradling an orphaned orang-utan in the rainforests of Borneo; such is the depth of the man and artist’s awe for all of God’s creatures. He’s simply never happier than when he’s observing, absorbing, photographing or of course, sketching the beauty he sees in all creature great and small.

Ever since Hodges began drawing animals professionally in 1980, the plaudits and industry awards have come thick and fast, including amongst others his ‘Best Selling Artist of the Year’ and ‘Best Selling Images By A Living Artist’ honours, as handed out by the much respected Fine Art Trade Guild in light of Hodges’ achievements at the time. The latter gong he received two years in succession, and had previously seen the likes of Rolf Harris, Jack Vettriano and David Shepherd pick it up, underlining what good artistic company he was in. and then there’s the celebrity collectors of Hodges seminal graphic work who have helped raise his profile still further. The household name likes of tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, US star of ‘Sex and the City’, Kristin Davis, 80s pop star, Kiki Dee, Supremes Mary Wilson and Scherrie Payne and notably a certain Virginia McKenna of The Born Free Foundation, who are just a few from an ever expanding list.

Hodges’ unique and detail-orientated art has been showcased and introduced to new buyers and collectors in art galleries and prestigious venues across the globe, and in the UK alone his work has been the predominant focus of attention in such establishments as the Natural History Museum, Harrods, the Royal Geographical Society, the Savoy, Christies and Sotheby’s auction houses.

In 2010 a major retrospective exhibition of Hodges’ art was hosted by ‘Nature in Art’, the world’s first and Europe’s only dedicated museum to art inspired and influenced by the natural world. To date, Hodges was the first and only pencil artist to be offered a one-man show at this unique venue. In the same year Hodges ventured down a new path, experimenting with 3D for the first time in his career. This innovative concept was encapsulated by a collage of Hodges’ prints adorning a five foot fibreglass elephant, forming an integral part of London’s ‘Elephant Parade’, which was historically the capital’s largest ever outdoor-staged art event. Hodges’ sculpture, entitled ‘Tattoo – Born to be Wild’, was located with a small herd in Green Park, marching toward Buckingham Palace for some two months over summer that year, along with a staggering 260 other elephant creations. Hodges’ elephant was auctioned off after the event – along with the others – and raised over £15,000 for the Born Free Foundation.

2013 has also been a busy 12 months for Hodges, as he’s visited the Galapagos Islands and Costa Rica, in addition to previous trips to such equally exotic destinations as the Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives as part of his reference-gathering field trips over the years which has resulted in Hodges taking in all five continents at various stages. In the autumn of this year Hodges’ recent illustrative works were showcased in a group exhibition hosted at the aforementioned ‘Nature in Art’ venue, which under the name of ‘Wildlife Masters’ afforded Hodges the opportunity to share centre stage with fellow wildlife genre artists, David Shepherd, Simon Combes, Anthony Gibbs and Geoffrey Dashwood. Hodges’ presence in this company will make it a record total of 22 times in which he’s been an artist in residence at the museum.
Hodges has also seen a selection of his best works make print, like for instance his limited edition ‘Drawn to Soul’ title, whilst a coffee table book was due to be published towards the end of 2013.