Legend has it that the very last wild wolf in England was killed in the Derbyshire village of Wormhill in the sixteenth century.
Hearing this piece of local lore inspired award winning wildlife artist Pollyanna Pickering to create a brand new collection of paintings. She envisioned a time when the Peak District and wild woods of Britain were home to wolves, bears, wildcats and lynx. This winter she invites you to discover a lost world of the wild creatures, which still populate our myths and legends as she unveils an exhibition of paintings of the wildlife which used to roam our countryside.
Over 50 paintings will be exhibited to the public for the first time from the 19th November – 4th December in the relaxed and comfortable atmosphere of her private gallery at Brookvale House, Oaker, near Matlock (AA signposted). Visitors will be welcome between 10.00am – 6.00pm each day, admission free.
This year paintings of some of the now extinct wildlife of the British isles will hang alongside images of the more familiar foxes, badgers and squirrels. Pollyanna will be in the gallery throughout the exhibition, and will be happy to chat about her work, and share some of the stories about the animals which inspired her, including the story of the wolf of Wormhill.
The village is steeped in history and is thought to have originally been named Wolfhill, after the numerous wolves which roamed the nearby woods. In the 13th century it is known that a family living there were called Wolfhunt. They were given the name for their service of hunting wolves in the Royal Forest of the High Peak.
Of course lots of other places claim to be the location of the death of the last wolf in England. Published in 1903 “Popular Romances of the West of England” tells us that Ludgvan, near Penzance was the home of a gigantic specimen and the last of his species. He carried off a child and was eventually tracked down by the local peasantry. Another strong contender is Humphrey Head in Cumbria where it is claimed that the last wolf was killed in the fourteenth century.
To study her wolves, Pollyanna travelled to Romania where the forests are habitat of some of Europe’s most endangered wildlife. Pollyanna stayed and worked in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, one of the last remaining strongholds of the highly endangered European wolf, an area rich in ancient folk lore, with medieval villages straight out of the pages of a fairy tale. As well as searching for wild wolves, bears and lynx, Pollyanna was able to spend time sketching two semi-tame wolves, rescued from a fur farm as young cubs, and hand reared by charity workers. She has returned to these sketches to create new pieces of artwork featuring the wolves in British settings – even imagining a time when they roamed around the famous standing stones of Stonehenge.
However she didn’t have to travel so far afield for inspiration for many of the other more familiar subjects in this years exhibition – for fifteen years Pollyanna ran a registered hospital for birds of prey from her home. Caring mainly for injured and orphaned raptors, she also rehabilitated foxes, hedgehogs, squirrels and other mammals, all of which feature in her paintings. This close contact with the creatures in her care is reflected in the realism and vitality of her work.
Although Pollyanna no longer has her own sanctuary, she continues to raise funds through her charitable foundation to support other organisations rescuing and rehabilitating British Wildlife. Ten percent of all sales throughout the exhibition will go towards the Foundation’s current project to raise £3000.00 to build new aviaries and a hospital unit at the Raptor Trust in Norfolk. Visitors to the gallery will also have the opportunity to purchase prize draw tickets to win an original painting.
In addition to her work with her own Foundation, Pollyanna is proud to act as patron of many national and international charities and organisations, including the Born Free Foundation. On the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic, award-winning motion picture Born Free, the Born Free Foundation declared 2016 to be The Year of the Lion. This Year of action and celebration has honoured the 50th anniversary of the film Born Free and the Foundation’s critical work to protect lions globally.
As part of the special events held during this anniversary year, Pollyanna was pleased to welcome very special guest actress and conservationist Virginia McKenna OBE, to a one-day event in her Derbyshire Gallery. The event sold out completely, and Pollyanna and Virginia spent the day signing calendars and books in a crowded gallery!
In recognition of this milestone an exclusive limited edition calendar has been published featuring twelve of Pollyanna’s paintings inspired by the work of Born Free. Only 200 calendars have been published, each will be individually numbered – and the last few copies will be available during the winter exhibition.
Pollyanna has also completed a brand new painting ‘The Year of the Lion’. She was inspired by the story of Elsa to paint a wild lioness as the sun rises over the plains – heralding a hopeful new dawn for lions in Africa. A Limited Edition print of this painting is now available. The first twenty-five of the edition have been co-signed by Virginia McKenna, and these will be exclusively available at this event.
Two new limited edition prints will also be launched at the exhibition. On display throughout will be Pollyanna’s extensive range of greetings cards, fine art and limited edition prints, and a wide variety of gift ware featuring her work, including signed sets of her postage stamps, alongside giftware exclusively commissioned by Harrods. Brand new card and papercrafting kits and printable DVDroms will also be available – as launched live on television in a series of increasingly popular programmes featuring Pollyanna live on the Create and Craft channel. There will be over 150 Christmas card designs to choose from, including the latest charity cards for Guide dogs for the Blind, the RSPB, and Marie Curie among many others.
Four new fine art calendars of her work will be available for 2017, along with diaries and eco-friendly wrapping paper.
Tea and coffee will be available throughout.