I first met Richard Ward half a lifetime ago, over an abandoned otter cub that he had brought into my surgery. Neither of us could have guessed at the time that this meeting would be the beginning of a long, almost unbroken association, during which we would become involved, time and again, with the same projects, each from his own very different perspective. At first it was individual clinical cases - the wild birds and animals which I would treat in my surgery while Richard made endless sketches, some of which would later be worked up into finished paintings. Later, as I moved about the world, it became almost uncanny how Richard would turn up when something exciting was about to happen.
It was in Southern Oman that that this strange serendipity reached a new
high. I was project vet in a range-survey of the rare and endangered Arabian
leopard. Within days of the
project's beginning, and quite out of the blue, Richard phoned me from Dubai
(where he was researching a project on falconry) to see if it would be
convenient for him to pop down for a flying visit. On arrival, he immediately set up studio and decided to stay
for a while. As usual, his timing
was impeccable as news came through from the mountains that a young male leopard
had just been trapped. Transported
by military helicopter into the deep wadis of the majestic Jebel Samhan range,
Richard Ward became one of a mere handful of people to have actual hands-on
experience of the Arabian leopard in the wild. Once again, the right man was in
the right place at the right time. His
fine-honed powers of observation, fed by the heady inspiration of his awesome
surroundings and his consummate artistic skills, all coalesced to produce a
series of magnificent paintings, a rich addition to the spectrum of the wildlife
portfolio with which his name has become synonymous.
Richard's passion for light, colour and form was fostered from his earliest days by his mother, herself a painter and an art teacher. Leaving his urban Yorkshire home, and the rewards which his award-studded academic record would surely have guaranteed him, he moved with Wendy and Louise, his wife and daughter, to Ireland. A few years later he was on the move again, this time to rural Spain and a remote mountain village above Cuenca. Richard considers this period to have been a turning point in his career and with a new found confidence in himself and in his work, moved back to the west coast of Ireland to paint fulltime. This wild and unspoilt area has been his base ever since, the nearest thing, I suppose, that an incurably adventurous and untrammeled spirit gets to call 'home'. Although wildlife would be the mainstay of his work, frequent research forays abroad have inevitably led him on to a diversity of subjects. His desire to pursue his artistic instincts has always driven him on, sometimes leading him to change tack with spectacular results – for instance, the stunning collection of portraits of the Himba tribespeople, began as a safari searching for the elusive desert elephant in Namibia.
Paintings of Richard Ward’s calibre demand not only patience, but endless hours of observation. He executes his work in various media, from large format oils to more conventional sizes in acrylics. Along with paintings and sketches, Richard also works on fired clay models, hand painted in acrylic. M.S.
Fielding Fine Art, London
Kenny Gallery Galway, Eire
West Shore Gallery, Galway, Eire
Solomon Gallery, Dublin, Eire
Feathers Gallery, Dublin, Eire
Lad Lane Gallery, Dublin, Eire
Grant Fine Art, Co Down, Ireland
Higgins Gallery, Malone House, Belfast, Ireland
Sala De Arte, Ingres Gallery, Madrid, Spain
Leigh Yawkey Museum, Wisconsin, USA
Explorers Club, New York, USA
British Embassy Residence, Muscat, Oman
'Out and About' Educational series on wildlife, published by Gill and MacMillan.
Sets of stamps for the Irish Post Office. One set featuring the Pine Marten, commissioned specifically for the World Wildlife Fund.
Special stamp design for Irish Habitat Conservation to raise funds for wildlife habitats.
"The Wildlife Artist", "A Brush with an Otter". Produced and distributed by R.T.E. Irish Television.
This is a sample selection of Richard Ward's work, for further information or commissions please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org;
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Paints supplied by Chroma Inc. Archival Oils/Atelier Artists Acrylics.