Congratulations to Karen Laurence-Rowe – overall winner of The David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year 2023.
“I was genuinely taken by complete surprise to be announced the winner at the Mall Galleries in London on 11th September.
I’m not known for painting abstracts but in an effort to free up my style and experiment a little, I painted a large canvas incorporating some energetic brush strokes and some experimental techniques with which I was pleased.
And then I saw an image which stopped me in my tracks. It was a photograph taken from the air of a group of giraffe that had gathered around a dried up waterhole and seemingly in unison, lay down and died of thirst and hunger together. It was one of the more agonising images taken during Kenya’s ravaging drought.
I turned around and looked at the painting drying on the studio wall behind me and I knew immediately that the painting wasn’t finished. By strange coincidence one of the marks on the painting resembled the exact shape of one of the dead giraffes and it was this which inspired the completion of ‘The Journey’.”
The judges described the work thus: ‘A painting which not only conveys a vital conservation message about drought and the changing environment but also a dynamic portrayal of a new and exciting abstract style. The more you get lost in this stunning landscape, the more you can find.’
Karen Laurence-Rowe was born in Uganda, daughter to a civil engineer. Living a nomadic existence, her childhood years were spend trailing across eastern Africa watching her father carve roads into a land teaming with game and sweeping landscapes – an Africa virtually unspoiled in the early sixties.
Karen has lived in Africa all her life and currently resides in Kenya where the extraordinary wildlife and landscapes continue to capture her imagination and fill the canvases and surfaces on which she work.
For many years now, her attention has turned more and more to the conservation of wildlife and endangered species, which her work clearly reflects. Many of her paintings are donated or part donated to conservation groups struggling to cope with poaching and the result of human encroachment into the wild spaces of Africa – this earned her the Simon Combes Conservation Artist Award in Canada in 2015 and the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2012, and now again in 2023.
An extremely versatile artist, Karen has the ability to switch easily from oil on canvas to watercolour or pencil – she finds the joy and meets the challenge in whatever medium she chooses.
Karen’s paintings now grace the walls of many an art lovers all over the world, including the renowned collection of His Highness the Aga Khan. It is her variety of styles and subject matter that give her work such a wide appeal and contribute to her fast growing success as an artist.