DRAWN TO WILDLIFE - GARY'S BIOGRAPHY
Gary Hodges is the UK’s best selling and most collectable pencil artist, an impressive accolade for a self-taught and self-published artist. The huge demand for Gary’s limited edition prints has led to a lucrative secondary market, rewarding collectors with more than just the beauty of his drawings.
His enthusiastic collectors have supported him throughout his career. This popularity has enabled him to follow his heart and support charities dear to him. Through his wildlife art well over half a million pounds has been given back to protect the wildlife he feels so passionate about.
"I can't imagine making a living drawing wildlife without giving back to help ensure their protection."
In April 2016 his major central London charity show “Heart & Soul - the Exhibition” raised £160,000 for elephants and other wildlife. This highly successful show attracted over 600 collectors to the private view including HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Virginia McKenna OBE, Rula Lenska and auctioneer BBC TV's James Lewis.
Gary’s love for animals clearly shines through his drawings. It also shows in his everyday life, whether befriending a dog on the street, swimming with lemon sharks in the Maldives, touching a wild grey whale in Mexico, cradling an orphaned orang-utan in Borneo... or simply observing, absorbing and photographing the beauty he sees.
His many accolades include the “Oscars” of the UK published art world, the “Best Selling Artist of the Year” and “Best Selling Images by a Living Artist” (two years in succession) from the Fine Art Trade Guild. Other winners of these awards include Jack Vettriano, Beryl Cook and David Shepherd. He also won the WWF fine art award on two occasions.
In 2010 a major retrospective was staged by Nature in Art, the World’s first and Europe’s only museum dedicated to art inspired by the natural world. Gary is the first pencil artist to be awarded a solo show at this prestigious museum. A limited edition book “Drawn to the Soul” was published to coincide with this landmark event and is now sold out. He was also part of a group exhibition “Wildlife Masters” at this museum in 2013. The show featured Gary with four other artists: painters David Shepherd, Simon Combes, Anthony Gibbs and sculptor Geoffrey Dashwood.
"Gary, without fail, captures the soul, the heart and the essence of whatever creature he is drawing. You only have to look into their eyes."
Virginia McKenna, OBE
Founder and Trustee of The Born Free Foundation
In 1990 he was awarded membership of the highly respected Society of Wildlife Artists. He has served eight years on their decision-making council. He has also been an enthusiastic judge on the selection panel for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s “Wildlife Artist of the Year” competition since 2008.
Past commissions include a commemorative drawing of the late George Adamson with his two favourite lions, Boy and Christian (1990), the limited edition print raising over £14,000 for Born Free, and Bengal tigress and cub (1992) created especially for the ITV Telethon Trust. This print made over £20,000 for the charity. Two editions, Love and Protection (1992) and Friends (1995) raised almost £65,000 for the EIA’s highly successful elephant campaign.
Although he no longer undertakes commissions, he made an exception in 2005 for the Born Free Foundation’s 21st anniversary. Gary’s expressive portrait of the world famous lioness Elsa has so far raised over £36,000 for the charity. He presented the original drawing to Virginia McKenna OBE in recognition of her lifelong dedication and compassion towards animals.
Three documentaries have been filmed about Gary and his art. Two were televised on the National Geographic and Discovery channels.
"To me, Gary’s stunning pencil drawings completely marry his love of wildlife and his brilliant artistry.”
Kiki Dee, Musician
Many famous names collect his art. Martina Navratilova, Kiki Dee, Virginia McKenna, Kristin Davis, Jenny Seagrove, Rula Lenska and Pam St Clement are just a few from an ever expanding list, as well as many dedicated people working closely with wildlife.
His passion for wildlife and wild places has drawn him to five continents in search of references for his drawings. His most recent trips were to the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica and Tanzania.
Gary’s art has been exhibited and sold in capital cities around the world and hundreds of times throughout the United Kingdom, including the Natural History Museum, Harrods, the Royal Geographical Society, the Savoy as well as Christies, Bonhams and Sotheby’s auction houses. His drawings are in the permanent collection of the Nature in Art Museum, Gloucester and the Government Art Collection, UK.