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Harriet Mead

About the artist

Animals and birds are the inspiration for my work. From an early age I developed a keen interest in wildlife due to the influence of my late father, Chris Mead, who was a well known author and broadcaster. His passion for birds and nearly forty years of research, and latterly publicity for the British Trust for Ornithology gave me an appreciation of the natural beauty of birds and animals. My mother was artistic she encouraged my sisters and I to draw and sketch. I have used personal experience and observation to provide the subject matter for my work and have travelled to various places around the world, including Asia and Africa. I have been an invited artist on numerous residencies and projects both in the UK and abroad.

I use welded steel to create my sculptures as it enables me to capture the movement of the subject and balance the pieces in a way that would be impossible if I were using a more traditional material. My early work was made of sheet steel with scrap items for detail but for many years I have used entirely found objects to create the sculptures. I try very hard to capture the essence of the animal without sentimentality and use the objects in a sympathetic way to outline the strength and muscle structure of the subject. I want to capture something of the quiet presence of an animal and not necessarily the drama. 

My sculptures are quirky combination of other people’s junk and my love of the subject. The animal is my inspiration. I like to say that I make natural history out of agricultural history. A sculpture is often inspired by one item that then takes me on a journey to the finished creature. The Secateur Billed Vulture was one such piece that started with a pair of ceased pruners and ended up with a life sized vulture.

My formal art education included a foundation year at St Albans College, followed by a degree in Fine Art at the Norwich School of Art.  After showing at its annual show for several years I  was honoured to be elected a full member of the internationally renowned  Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA).  I first served on Council of SWLA in 2004 and had the privilege to be elected as President of the Society in 2009 following in the illustrious footsteps of Sir Peter Scott, Keith Shackleton, Robert Gillmor, Bruce Pearson and Andrew Stock.  The SWLA annual exhibition, The Natural Eye, is held at the Mall Galleries.

I was invited to join the Artist for Nature Foundation on their collaboration with the Great Fen Project in 2005.  In 2009 I took part in the ANF expedition to the Hula valley in Israel and also visited India to help launch the ANF Eco Lodge and Environmental Centre. In 2011 I visited the tiny island of Sark in the Channel Islands for the ANF’s 25th anniversary project.

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