A young artist has been shortlisted for a major international prize, just six months after her first exhibition.
Kate Simpson, 22, has been named a finalist in the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Artist of the Year competition, which carries a first prize of £10,000.
The Longhorsley resident will travel to London for the awards night on June 2, and will see her work displayed in a prestigious exhibition in the Mall Galleries.
The Herald previously reported on Miss Simpson’s first exhibition at Morpeth Town Hall in November, and the drawing of puffins she entered for the award featured in that event.
She said: “I heard about the competition on social media so I looked it up and decided to enter some of the work from the exhibition in the Town Hall. I couldn’t believe it when I made the shortlist.
“Apart from commissions, all of my work is based on the wildlife of Northumberland and the puffins I painted are from the Farne Islands.
“If I were to win, the £10,000 would fund my artwork, but it feels great just being in the final. It means that my work is going to be displayed in the Mall Galleries so that should help me to get my name out there. All of my commissions are from people in Northumberland at the moment so I would love to go that bit further and London might help me to do that.”
Miss Simpson studied art at King Edward VI School in Morpeth and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Motion Graphics from Northumbria University. Afterwards she returned to her first love of fine art and watercolour.
Since her exhibition, her work has been snapped up and she has recently illustrated the book Mortimer Fish Goes North by Tim Stafford, which follows the adventures of a Jack Russell.
“The hard work is really starting to pay off,” she said.
“I’m doing a lot of commission work, which is my bread and butter, but I’ve also been doing my original work and that has been selling. In fact, I’ve got no originals for sale at the moment because they have all been sold.
“Fine art was always going to be something I would do in later life, I just love it. I don’t see it as a job, but it’s great that I can do this as a career.”
The exhibition at the Mall Galleries runs from Monday, June 2, to Saturday, June 7, and will raise funds for critically endangered mammals in Africa and Asia supported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.
Mr Shepherd said: “The shortlisted entries are once again exceptional. From the judges’ point of view, the drama and technical excellence in all the work was quite breathtaking.”