If it wasn’t for Attenborough, I wouldn’t be an artist…
David Attenborough, Oils on Board, 2014
and I think this same sentiment is true for a lot of wildlife artists, photographers, filmmakers, zoologists, biologists and more.
As David Attenborough turns 90, it seems clear that his time for documentary film-making is far from over; I personally cannot wait to see what comes next. But it is the legacy that will linger; his legacy of inspiring, educating, as well as pressing on some much more sensitive and political issues; but never dictatorial, never inciting blame. Instead, his aim was always to show us the wonders of the natural world, so we can truly understand what we are missing.
Not all of us will get the chance to stand on the South Pole, swim alongside a blue whale, watch the unfurling of the world’s largest flower, have to conduct a serious interview while Konrad Lawrence gets pooped on by a goose, or get sat on by a rambunctious baby gorilla, but thanks to Attenborough, at least part of us thinks that we will.
Thanks to extraordinary insight, captivating filmography and dialogue that hooks you in and makes you want to care, David Attenborough has in no small way helped to raise awareness of the state of our planet for future generations (and there are many other heroes in this arena – just watch The Selfish Green, where some of the finest minds come together to discuss how to save the planet).
Thanks to growing up glued to BBC One, visiting every zoo and bird park and wildlife reserve I could and devouring animal encyclopedias, I have come to understand just how much we are shaping our planet; both negatively and positively. There is a carefully composed mix of dedication, drive and also, hope. And those are the same values that drive me to paint, so that I can maybe touch a little upon that legacy. I hope to recreate just a tiny bit of that magic in my paintings.
Happy Birthday, Sir David.
Here is just a small selection of some of my favourite moments:
David Attenborough – What a Wonderful World
The incredible Barnacle Goose – The Hunt
Penguins and a Life of Crime – Frozen Planet
Africa – Epilogue
Unknown Social Behaviour in Rhinos – Africa