ABOUT THE ARTIST

 

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The artist doing research on elephant in Botswana

“It has never been my intention to merely portray realistic interpretations of the wild, but rather to give the viewer a glimpse into the emotions of the animals that I paint, draw and sculpt.”

Alan Ainslie has established himself as a wildlife artist adept at capturing the untamed spirit of Africa in his drawings, paintings and sculptures. His portrayal of the wildlife of the African savannas gives us an insight into their world in the most striking style.

He has a passion for the African wilderness, where he spends as much time as possible to obtain inspiration and reference material for his art. His travels to remote areas of Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa have deepened his appreciation and understanding of the wild creatures that he paints and sculpts. He has authored his own book, To Touch Nature. This beautifully illustrated coffee-table book features his travels and works, showing how his art has evolved and changed over his career that spans 30-odd years.

"To Touch Nature" - the artist's self-authored book about his work and travels

Born in 1952, Alan grew up on a Karoo farm in the arid Eastern Cape region of South Africa. He graduated from the East London Art School in 1974, where he studied under the well-known painter and sculptor, Jack Lugg. Upon completion of his studies, he worked as a graphic designer and illustrator. His career as a wildlife artist commenced in 1984. Since then he has participated in numerous local and international wildlife exhibitions. His first solo exhibition in 1987 was opened by well-known South African conservationist, Clive Walker.

As an artist of international acclaim, his wildlife paintings, drawings and bronze sculptures are found in private and corporate collections worldwide – Australia, Austria, Botswana, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Poland, Hawaii, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Zambia.

Being a versatile artist, Alan has completed a wide range of commissions, including a life-size bronze sculpture of two running oryx for South African National Parks. Today this sculpture can be viewed at Twee Rivieren in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between South Africa and Botswana. He has done bronze sculptures for three major international golf tournaments at Sun City, South Africa; bronze sculptures of the Big Five for the international company Wyeth in Pennsylvania, USA; paintings of the Lost City at Sun City for Sun International; and a collection of paintings for Global Resorts in Botswana.

In addition to his wildlife art, Alan is also an accomplished graphic designer and illustrator. In 1996, he was commissioned by the South African government to create the inside front cover and watermark design for the country's passport. He has illustrated numerous stamp series, miniature sheets and first-day covers for India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Namibia and South Africa. His stamp designs not only cover wildlife, but also architecture, culture, and portraits of international figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nobel laureates such as Nelson Mandela, Nadine Gordimer, Albert Luthuli and Desmond Tutu. His stamp series entitled “Animal Poaching Awareness” was released by Philatelic Services in South Africa in March 2015.

Stamp of Mahatma Gandhi designed by the artist

Sketching a charcoal drawing entitled "Forest Dwellers"

Committed to the conservation of wildlife in South Africa and elsewhere in the world, the artist has donated part of the proceeds from his work to various wildlife organisations such as the Rhino and Elephant Foundation, Rainforest Foundation, Endangered Wildlife Trust, World Wide Fund for Nature, and the Wildlife Group of the South African Veterinary Association. He was also involved in a Vodacom project aimed at reintroducing the endangered African wild dog into the Serengeti Game Reserve in Tanzania. Alan was commissioned to do bronze sculptures of the wild dog and to design the logo for this special project.

In 2013, the artist's black rhino bronze sculpture was auctioned off, helping to raise funds for the Save the Waterberg Rhino project. In 2014, Alan donated funds generated from his one-man exhibition in Stellenbosch to the Waterberg Living Museum. These funds are used to promote conservation awareness among local schoolchildren and children attending Clive Walker's Lapalala Wilderness School.

Two rhino bronzes were donated as floating trophies to the Baviaanskloof Trail Run held annually in the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape Province – a World Heritage Site and one of the largest wilderness conservation areas in South Africa. Alan also donated 50 limited-edition prints of the black rhino that are presented to athletes that complete three of these trail runs. This is known as the Legend Award.


Darrell and Evie Raubenheimer, organisers of the annual Baviaanskloof Trail Run in the Eastern Cape, with the Legend Award (rhino print) and floating trophies of rhino bronze.

“Many species are threatened with extinction and their biggest enemy is man. It is up to us to help ensure their survival and leave behind a wildlife legacy for future generations.”

EXHIBITIONS

  • 1985: International Wildlife Exhibition - Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, SA
  • 1987: First solo exhibition - Sanderling Gallery, Johannesburg, SA
  • 1987: International Raptor Exhibition, Israel
  • 1987: Rhino and Elephant Exhibition - Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, SA
  • 1990: Second solo exhibition - Sanderling Gallery, Johannesburg, SA
  • 1991: International Wildlife Exhibition - Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, SA
  • 1992: International Wildlife Exhibition - Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, SA
  • 1993: International Wildlife Exhibition - Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, SA
  • 1993: International Wildlife Exhibition - Munich, Germany
  • 1993: International Marine Exhibition - Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg,SA
  • 1995: International Wildlife Exhibition - Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, SA
  • 1999: International Wildlife Exhibition - Brisbane, Australia
  • 2000: Solo exhibition - Silver Lakes Estate, Pretoria, SA
  • 2004: SCI Convention - Reno, Nevada, USA
  • 2005: Joint exhibition - Centurion Golf Estate, Pretoria, SA
  • 2013: Joint exhibition - Art on Church Gallery, Stellenbosch
  • 2013: Fyn Arts exhibition - Hornbill House Gallery, Hermanus
  • 2014: Third solo exhibition - Art on Church Gallery, Stellenbosch
  • 2015: Fourth solo exhibition, - Art on Church Gallery, Stellenbosch
  • 2016: Joint exhibition - Harbour Gallery, Cape Town Waterfront
  • 2018: Fifth solo exhibition - Art on Church Gallery, Stellenbosch


PUBLICATIONS IN WHICH THE ARTIST FEATURES

  • The Dictionary of South African Painters and Sculptors , Grania Ogilvie, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, 1988
  • The Kill - Wildlife Encounters, Director's Collection , The Director's Collection Limited, Botswana, 1989
  • Africa's Great Tuskers by Johan Marais, Penguin Publishers, Johannesburg, 2012
  • To Touch Nature - The art and travels of Alan Ainslie, authored and published by the artist himself