A West Grimstead woman has won a global wildlife art competition and earned the privilege of seeing her art displayed in London, Edinburgh and Norwich after beating thousands of other entrants from around the world.

Philippa Lavers, 47, of West Grimstead, was named Sketch for Survival Wildlife 100 Artist of the Year at a private viewing of finalists’ artworks in London on Wednesday, November 8.

The Sketch for Survival competition, organised by the conservation charity Explorers Against Extinction, which supports multiple conservation organisations around the world, including the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Save the Elephants, Save the Rhino International and the Ape Alliance.

Salisbury Journal: Philippa Lavers sketch entitled I See You,, which won her Sketch for Survival Wildlife 100 Artist of the Year.Philippa Lavers sketch entitled I See You,, which won her Sketch for Survival Wildlife 100 Artist of the Year. (Image: Philippa Lavers)

The competition requires participants to create an artwork featuring an animal on the endangered species list. Philippa decided to feature a primate after learning of the worldwide online monkey torture video ring exposed by a BBC investigation in June.

Philippa said: “I was feeling sad and I thought I’ve got to channel this feeling, this emotion into something.”

Philippa found a photo taken by wildlife photographer Edwin Butter, whose work she had seen before, and knew that would be her subject.

Wildlife artist Gary Hodges, who served on the competition’s selection panel, said: “This tender pastel drawing by Philippa Lavers of an infant western lowland gorilla won us all over in the end, for the wonderful looseness in her art, the emotion bursting out of the sparkling eyes and the feeling of love conveyed with the sweeping hint of the mothers arm cradling her treasure.

“An absolute gem of a pastel drawing that makes for a most worthy winner."

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Philippa journey of drawing began at a young age, but she was discouraged from pursuing it as a career. In December 2019, she restarted drawing after 23 years, creating a portrait of her mother’s pet whippet. She was soon being asked by other family and friends to draw their dogs.

When the covid lockdowns hit soon after, Philippa closed her chiropractic business and took advantage of the situation with a career change.

She first entered the Sketch for Survival contest in 2021 as her “first foray into wildlife art,” entering the top 100 participants and became an invitational artist for Sketch for Survival’s 2022 season and returned to the competition this year.

Philippa said: “I was pretty blown away to win.”

Despite having won against multiple seasoned wildlife artists in the competition, she still believes she has a lot of progress to make before becoming their equal.

Philippa said: “I’ve still got a lot to do, but it’s definitely some encouragement.”