Undersea Art Award

Anna Kirk-Smith Copyright - Anna Kirk-Smith

Artists dive to show the magic of our seas!

Details will soon be announced about the artist who has won the 2015 bursary to take the plunge and seek inspiration beneath the waves.

The Wildlife Trusts and the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) have funded an Undersea Art Award which will pay for an artist to undergo dive training with the opportunity to exhibit art inspired by marine life at the SWLA annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.  Previous winners have created wonderful art works to highlight the urgent need for Marine Conservation Zones.

The award, established in 2007, provides a bursary for an established artist to learn to dive and then to work underwater off the UK coast, recording the wildlife of the sea.  The works created to raise awareness of the plight of our marine life from around the UK coast range from paintings to sculpture.




Previous Undersea Art Award winners:

2012 - Harriet Mead

Harriet Mead is a sculptor and President of the Society of Wildlife Arttists (SWLA). Animals and birds are the inspiration for her work which Harriet produces from scrap metal.  

Upon learning she would receive the Underwater Art Award, Harriet said:

“I am thrilled at the idea of exploring a whole new unfamiliar underwater landscape, and discovering the creatures which inhabit it.”

2011 - Esther Tyson

2011 award winner, Esther Tyson from Derbyshire successfully completed her dive training in the wildlife rich waters off the Dorset coast.  Her resulting artwork depicts the seagrass meadows of Studland Bay.

Esther Tyson paints underwater

 Esther said: “Diving at Studland has been an incredible privilege, the seagrass habitat enchanting and drawing underwater has become as natural as drawing above. I have been fortunate enough to see remarkable sea life in these waters.”


2010 - Anna Kirk-Smith

2010's artist, Anna Kirk-Smith said: “The scuba diving training was completed over five wet weeks, communing with rainbow trout and sturgeon in a flooded quarry before progressing onto the salty stuff.

"The detail, the closeness, and the intimacy of encounters with marine species in, what is after all their world, ate very beautiful and strangely humbling. This experience indeed changed my life and my intended course from here on."

Anna has produced a limited edition print based on her Living Seas artwork. 15% of sales are donated to The Wildlife Trusts.  

2008/9 - Antonia Phillips

Antonia is based in Swanage and specialises in work about the sea, bird flight and movement along coastlines.  She says: “My work is about being near the sea; from walks in Purbeck along beach and cliff to the icy seas of the far north, this is a wonderful chance to see how the light and colour change under the water and a challenge to try out new ways of working.”

Antonia sketched and painted from life as she dived under Swanage Pier, known as one of the finest places to see marine wildlife off the Dorset coast. She used transparent Perspex so that she could actually see through to what she was painting, and the sketching block was tied on to prevent it from floating away.

For more information visit Antonia's website.

2007 - Kim Atkinson

Kim lives on the coast of north-west Wales and trained at Falmouth, Cheltenham and the Royal College of Art.  She learnt to dive and portray the underwater natural history in Dorset, at Kimmeridge and at Swanage.  She writes:  “To do this I used perspex which I drew on while submerged, with a mixture of graphite and oil pastels, to try to record the blennies, wrasse, anemones and beautiful seaweeds.

“On returning to my studio in North Wales I cut a large piece of Chinese paper from a roll and initially painted with acrylic on it which sealed the surface, and then using a combination of printing and painting I applied oil paint. The idea was to try to get across the sense of turbulence and Coralline weeds at Kimmeridge, contrasting with still water under the piers at Swanage.”